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COLLEY  GIBBER'S  famous  Autobiography 
has  always  been  recognized  as  one  of  the 
most  dehghtful  books  of  its  class  ;  but,  to  students 
of  theatrical  history,  the  charm  of  its  author's  in- 
p;enuous  frankness  has  been  unable  altogrether  to 
overweigh  the  inaccuracy  and  vagueness  of  his  treat- 
ment of  matters  of  fact.  To  remove  this  cause  of 
complaint  is  the  principal  object  of  the  present 
edition.  But  correcting  errors  is  only  one  of  an 
editor's  duties,  and  by  no  means  the  most  difficult. 
More  exacting,  and  almost  equally  important,  are 
the  illustration  of  the  circumstances  surrounding  the 
author,  the  elucidation  of  his  references  to  current 
events,  and  the  comparison  of  his  statements  and 
theories  with  those  of  judicious  contemporaries.  In 
all  these  particulars  I  have  interpreted  my  duty  in 
the  widest  sense,  and  have  aimed  at  giving,  as  far 
as  in  me  lies,  an  exhaustive  commentary  on  the 
"  Apology." 

I  am  fortunate  in  being  able  to  claim  that  my 
work  contains  much  information  which  has  never 
before  been  made  public.     A  careful  investigation 


of  the  MSS.  in  the  British  Museum,  and  of  the 
Records  of  the  Lord  Chamberlain's  Office  (to  which 
my  access  was  greatly  facilitated  by  the  kindness  of 
Mr.  Edward  F.  S.  Pigott,  the  Licenser  of  Plays), 
has  enabled  me  to  give  the  exact  dates  of  many 
transactions  which  were  previously  uncertain,  and  to 
give  references  to  documents  of  great  importance 
in  stage  history,  whose  very  existence  was  before 
unknown.  How  important  my  new  matter  is,  may 
be  estimated  by  comparing  the  facts  given  in  my 
notes  regarding  the  intricate  transactions  of  the  years 
1707  to  1 72 1,  with  any  previous  history  of  the  same 
period.  Among  other  sources  of  information,  I 
may  mention  the  Cibber  Collections  in  the  Forster 
Library  at  South  Kensington,  to  which  my  attention 
was  drawn  by  the  kindness  of  the  courteous  keeper, 
Mr.  R.  F.  Sketchley;  and  I  have  also,  of  course, 
devoted  much  time  to  contemporary  newspapers. 

In  order  to  illustrate  the  "  Apology,"  two  tracts  of 
the  utmost  rarity,  the  "  Historia  Histrionica"  and 
Anthony  Aston's  "  Brief  Supplement"  to  Clbber's 
Lives  of  the  Actors,  are  reprinted  in  this  edition. 
The  "  Historia  Histrionica"  was  written,  all  autho- 
rities agree,  by  James  Wright,  Barrister-at-Law, 
whose  "  History  and  Antiquities  of  the  County  of 
Rutland"  is  quoted  by  Cibber  in  his  first  chapter 
(vol.  i.  p.  8).  The  historical  value  of  this  pamphlet 
is  very  great,  because  it  contains  the  only  formal 
account  in  existence  of  the  ^feneration  of  actors  who 
preceded  Bettcrton,  and  because  it  gives  many  curious 


and  interesting  particulars  regarding  the  theatres  and 
plays,  as  well  as  the  actors,  before  and  during  the 
Civil  Wars.  As  Cibber  begins  his  account  of  the 
stage  (see  chap,  iv.)  at  the  Restoration,  there  is  a 
peculiar  propriety  in  prefacing  it  by  Wright's  work  ; 
a  fact  which  has  already  been  recognized,  for  the 
publisher  of  the  third  edition  (i  750)  of  the  "  Apology" 
appended  to  it  "  A  Dialogue  on  Old  Plays  and  Old 
Players,"  which  is  simply  a  reprint  of  the  "  Historia 
Histrionica"  under  another  title,  and  without  the 
curious  preface. 

Following  the  "  Historia  Histrionica"  will  be  found 
a  copy  of  the  Patent  granted  to  Sir  William  Davenant, 
one  of  the  most  important  documents  in  English 
stage  history.  A  similar  grant  was  made  to  Thomas 
Killigrew,  as  is  noted  on  page  87  of  this  volume. 

These  documents  form  a  natural  introduction  to 
Gibber's  History  of  the  Stage  and  of  his  own  career, 
which  commences,  as  has  been  said,  at  the  Restoration, 
and  ends,  somewhat  abruptly,  with  his  retirement 
from  the  regular  exercise  of  his  profession  in  1733. 
To  complete  the  record  of  Gibber's  life,  I  have  added 
a  Supplementary  Ghapter  to  the  "  Apology,"  in 
which  I  have  also  noted  briefly  the  chief  incidents  of 
theatrical  history  up  to  the  time  of  his  death.  In 
this,  too,  I  have  told  with  some  degree  of  minute- 
ness the  story  of  his  famous  quarrel  with  Pope  ;  and 
to  this  chapter  I  have  appended  a  list  of  Gibber's 
dramatic  productions,  and  a  Bibliography  of  works 
by,  or  relating  to  him. 


Anthony  Aston's  "  Brief  Supplement  to  Colley 
Cibber,  Esq;  his  Lives  of  the  late  famous  Actors 
and  Actresses,"  of  which  a  reprint  is  given  with  this 
edition,  is  almost,  if  not  quite,  the  rarest  of  theatrical 
books.  Isaac  Reed,  says  Genest,  "wrote  his  name 
in  his  copy  of  Aston's  little  book,  with  the  date  of 
1 769 — he  says — '  this  Pamphlet  contains  several  cir- 
cumstances concerning  the  Performers  of  the  last 
century,  which  are  no  where  else  to  be  found — it 
seems  never  to  have  been  published ' — he  adds — 
'Easter  Monday,  1795 — though  I  have  now  pos- 
sessed this  pamphlet  26  years,  it  is  remarkable  that 
I  never  have  seen  another  copy  of  it.' "  Of  Aston 
himself,  little  is  known.  According  to  his  own 
account  he  came  on  the  stage  about  1 700,  and  we 
know  that  he  was  a  noted  stroller  ;  but  as  to  when 
he  was  born,  or  when  he  died,  there  is  no  informa- 
tion. He  is  supposed,  and  probably  with  justice,  to 
be  the  "  trusty  Anthony,  who  has  so  often  adorned 
both  the  theatres  in  England  and  Ireland,"  mentioned 
in  Estcourt's  advertisement  of  his  opening  of  the 
Bumper  Tavern,  in  the  "Spectator"  of  28th  and  29th 
December,  1 7 1 1 ;  and  he  was  no  doubt  a  well-known 
character  among  actors  and  theatre-goers.  He  would 
thus  be  well  qualified  for  his  undertaking  as  bio- 
grapher of  the  actors  of  his  time  ;  and,  indeed,  his 
work  bears  every  mark  of  being  the  production  of 
a  writer  thoroughly  well  acquainted  with  his  sub- 
ject. This  valuable  pamphlet  has  been,  until  now 
practically  a  sealed  book  to  theatrical  students. 



The  three  works  which  make  up  this  edition — 
Gibber's  ^'  Apology,"  Wright's  "  Historia  Histrionica," 
and  Aston's  "Brief  Supplement" — are  reprinted 
verbatim  et  literatim  ;  the  only  alterations  made  being 
the  correction  of  obvious  errors.  Amonsf  obvious 
errorc  \  include  the  avalanche  of  commas  with  which 
Gibber's  printers  overwhelmed  his  text.  A  more 
grotesque  misuse  of  punctuation  I  do  not  know,  and 
I  have  struck  out  a  large  number  of  these  points, 
not  only  because  they  were  unmeaning,  but  also 
because,  to  a  modern  reader,  they  were  irritating  in 
the  highest  degree.  The  rest  of  the  punctuation  I 
have  not  interfered  with,  and  with  the  single  excep- 
tion of  these  commas  the  present  edition  reproduces 
not  only  the  matter  of  the  works  reprinted,  but  the 
very  manner  in  which  they  originally  appeared,  the 
use  of  italics  and  capitals  having  especially  been  care- 
fully observed. 

The  "  Apology  "  of  Gibber  has  gone  through  six 
editions.  I  have  reprinted  the  text  of  the  second, 
because  it  was  certainly  revised  by  the  author,  and 
many  corrections  made.  But  I  have  carefully  com- 
pared my  text  with  that  of  the  first  edition,  and, 
wherever  the  correction  is  more  than  merely  verbal, 
I  have  indicated  the  fact  in  a  note  {e.g.  vol.  i.  p.  72). 
The  only  edition  which  has  been  annotated  is  that 
published  in  1822,  under  the  editorship  of  Edmund 
Bellchambers.  Whether  the  Notes  were  written  by 
the  Editor  or  by  Jacob  Henry  Burn,  who  annotated 
Dickens's  "  Grimaldi,"  is  a  point  which  I  have  raised 


in  my  "  Bibliographical  Account  of  English  Thea- 
trical Literature"  (p.  373).  I  have  been  unable  to 
obtain  any  authentic  information  on  the  subject,  so 
give  Burn's  claim  for  what  it  is  worth.  The  state- 
ment as  to  the  latter's  authorship  was  made  in  his 
own  handwriting  on  the  back  of  the  title-page  of 
a  copy  of  the  book,  sold  by  a  well-known  book- 
seller some  years  ago.  It  was  in  the  following 
terms  : — 

"In  1821,  while  residing  at  No.  28,  Maiden  Lane,  Covent 
Garden,  the  elder  Oxberry,  who  frequently  called  in  as  he  passed, 
found  me  one  day  adding  notes  in  MS.  to  Gibber's  '  Apology.' 
Taking  it  up,  he  said  he  should  like  to  reprint  it ;  he  wanted 
something  to  employ  the  spare  time  of  his  hands,  and  proferred 
to  buy  my  copy,  thus  annotated,  I  think  it  was  two  pounds  I 
said  he  should  have  it  for ;  this  sum  he  instantly  paid,  and  the 
notes  throughout  are  mine,  not  Bellchambers's,  who  having  seen 
it  through  the  press  or  corrected  the  proofs  whilst  printing,  added 
his  name  as  the  editor. — J.  H.  Burn." 

Whether  Burn  or  Bellchambers  be  the  author,  the 
notes,  I  find,  are  by  no  means  faultlessly  accurate. 
I  have  made  little  use  of  them,  except  that  the  Bio- 
graphies, which  are  by  far  the  most  valuable  of  the 
annotations,  are  reprinted  at  the  end  of  my  second 
volume.  Even  in  these,  it  will  be  seen,  I  have 
corrected  many  blunders.  Some  of  the  memoirs  I 
have  condensed  slightly  ;  and,  as  the  Biographies  of 
Booth,  Dogget,  and  Wilks  were  in  all  essential 
points  merely  a  repetition  of  Gibber's  narrative,  I 
have  not  reprinted  them.  In  all  cases  where  I  have 
made  any  use  of  Bellchambers's  edition,  or  have  had 


a  reference  suggested  to  me  by  it,  I  have  carefully 
acknowledged  my  indebtedness. 

Among  the  works  of  contemporary  writers  which 
I  have  quoted,  either  in  illustration,  in  criticism,  or 
in  contradiction  of  Gibber,  it  will  be  noticed  that  I 
make  large  drafts  upon  the  anonymous  pamphlet 
entitled  "  The  Laureat  :  or,  the  right  side  of  Colley 
Gibber,  Esq;"  (1740).  I  have  done  this  because  it 
furnishes  the  keenest  criticism  upon  Gibber's  state- 
ments, and  gives,  in  an  undeniably  clever  style, 
the  views  of  Gibber's  enemies  upon  himself  and 
his  works.  I  am  unable  even  to  guess  who  was 
the  author  of  this  work,  but  he  must  have  been  a 
man  well  acquainted  with  theatrical  matters. 

Another  pamphlet  from  which  I  quote,  "  The 
Egotist:  or,  Golley  upon  Gibber"  (1743),  is  interest- 
ing as  being,  I  think  without  doubt,  the  work  of 
Gibber  himself,  although  not  acknowledged  by  him. 

Many  of  the  works  which  I  quote  in  my  notes  have 
gone  through  only  one  edition,  and  my  quotations 
from  these  are  easily  traced  ;  but,  for  the  convenience 
of  those  who  may  wish  to  follow  up  any  of  my  re- 
ferences to  books  which  have  been  more  than  once 
issued,  I  may  mention  that  in  the  case  of  Davies's 
"Dramatic  Miscellanies"  I  have  referred  throughout 
to  the  edition  of  1785;  that  Dr.  Birkbeck  Hill's 
magnificent  edition  of  Boswell's  "  Life  of  Johnson" 
is  that  which  I  have  quoted ;  and  that  the  references 
to  Nichols's  reprint  of  Steele's  "  Theatre,"  the 
"  Anti-Theatre,"  &c,,  are  to  the  scarce  and  valuable 


edition  in  2  vols.  i2mo,  1791.  My  quotations  from 
the  "  Tatler "  have  been  made  from  a  set  of  the 
original  folio  numbers,  which  I  am  fortunate  enough 
to  possess ;  and  I  have  made  my  extracts  from  the 
"  Roscius  Anglicanus  "  from  Mr.  Joseph  Knight's 
beautiful  facsimile  edition.  The  index,  which  will 
be  found  at  the  end  of  the  second  volume,  has  been 
the  object  of  my  special  attention,  and  I  have  spared 
no  pains  to  make  it  clear  and  exhaustive. 

Robert  W.  Lowe. 
London,  September,  1888. 


THE  twenty-six  portraits  and  eighteen  chapter 
headings  in  this  new  edition  of  Colley  Gibber's 
"Apology"  are  all  newly  engraved.  The  portraits 
are  copperplate  mezzotints,  engraved  by  R.  B. 
Parkes  from  the  best  and  most  authentic  originals, 
in  the  selection  of  which  great  care  has  been  taken. 
Where  more  than  one  portrait  exists,  the  least  hack- 
neyed likeness  has  been  chosen,  and  pains  have 
been  taken  to  secure  those  pictures  which  are  likely 
to  be  esteemed  as  rarities.  The  chapter  headings 
are  etched  by  Adolphe  Lalauze,  and  the  subjects 
represent  scenes  from  plays  illustrating  the  costumes, 
manner,  and  appearance  of  the  actors  of  Gibber's 
period,  from  contemporary  authorities. 

London,  October^  1888. 



English  Stage xix 

Letters  Patent  for  Erecting  a  New  Theatre  .  .  .  liii 
Title  and   Dedication  to   the  Life  of  Mr.  Colley 

Gibber Ixiii 


The  Introduction.     The  Author's  Birth,  etc.  ...         i 


He  that  writes  of  himself  not  easily  tir'd,  etc.     .       28 

The  Author's  several  Chances  for  the  Church,  the 
Court,  and  the  Army,  etc 55 

A  short  View  of  the  Stage,  from  the  Year  1660  to 
the  Revolution,  etc 86 


The  Theatrical  Characters  of  the  Principal  Actors 
in  the  Year  1690,  continu'd,  etc 119 



The  Author's  first  Step  upon  the  Stage.     His  Dis- 
couragements, ETC 1 80 


The  State  of  the  Stage  continued,  etc 227 

The  Patentee  of  Drury-Lane  wiser  than  his  Actors, 
ETC 262 

A  small  Apology  for  writing  on,  etc 299 





I.  CoLLEY  Gibber.    After  the  painting  by  John  Baptist 

Vanloo,  1740 Frontispiece 

11.  Caius  Gabriel  Gibber,  the  sculptor,  father  of 
Golley  Gibber.  After  the  picture  by  Laroon  and 
Ghristian  Richter.  (Gollection  of  the  Earl  of 
Orford,  Strawberry  Hill) 18 

III.  Thomas   Betterton.      After  the  painting  by  Sir 

Godfrey  Kneller 88 

IV.  Benjamin  Johnson,  in  the  character  of  Ananias, 

in  Ben  Jonson's  "Alchemist,"  act  iii.    After  the 

picture  by  Peter  Van  Bleeck,  1738 104 

V.  Edward  Kynaston,  comedian.     After  R.  Cooper  .     122 

VI.  Anthony  Leigh,  in  the  character  of  the  Friar,  in 

Dryden's   tragi-comedy  of  "The  Spanish  Friar." 

After  the  painting  by  Sir  Godfrey  Kneller    .     .     .     146 

VII.  Elizabeth    Barry.      After    the    painting    by    Sir 

Godfrey  Kneller,  1689.     (Collection  of  the  Earl 

of  Orford,  Strawberry  Hill) 160 

VIII.  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  as  "The  Indian  Queen,"  in  the 
play  by  Sir  R.  Howard  and  J.  Dryden.     After  the 

picture  by  J.  Smith  and  W.  Vincent 1S8 

IX.  William  Bullock.      After  the  picture  by  Thomas 

Johnson.     Ad  vivum  pinxit  et  fecit 204 

X.  William    Penkethman.      After    the    painting    by 

R.  Schmutz 238 

XI.  William   Congreve.       After   the   painting   by   Sir 

Godfrey  Kneller,  1709,  "Kit-Gat  Club"      ...     272 
XII.  Charlotte    Charke.      After  a   study   by   Henry 

Gravelot 288 

XIII.  Sir  John  Vanbrugh.     After  the  painting  by  Sir 

Godfrey  Kneller,  "  Kit-Cat  Club  " 306 




Volume  the  First. 

L  Caius    Gabriel    Gibber's    Figures    of    Raving    and 

Melancholy  Madness.     From  Bedlam  Hospital.^ 
II.  Scene   illustrating   Growne's  "Sir   Gourtly   Nice." 
After  the  contemporary  design  by  Arnold  Vanhaecken. 

III.  Scene    illustrating    Etheredge's    "Man    of    Mode; 

or,  Sir  Fopling  Flutter."     After  the  design  by  Lud. 
du  Guernier. 

IV.  Scene    illustrating    Gongreve's    "  Double    Dealer." 

After  F.  Hay  man. 
V.  Griffin  and  Johnson  in  the  Gharacters  of  Tribula- 
tion and  Ananias,  Ben  Jonson's  "Alchemist,"  act  iii. 
scene  2.  Tribulation.  "  I  do  command  thee  (Spirit  of 
Zeal,  but  Trouble)  to  peace,  \vithin  him."  After  the 
original  by  Peter  Van  Bleeck,  1738. 
VI.  Scene    illustrating  Otway's   "Orphan."      After    the 

contemporary  etching  by  G.  Vander  Gucht. 
VII.  Mrs.  Porter,  Mills,  and  Gibber.    After  a  contemporary 

engraving  by  J.  Basire. 
VIII.  Scene  illustrating  Steele's  "Funeral,  or  Grief  a  la 
Mode."  After  the  contemporary  design  by  G.  Vander 
IX.  Mr.  Estcourt  as  "Kite"  in  Farquhar's  "Recruiting 
Officer."  After  the  contemporary  design  by  E.  Knight 
and  G.  Vander  Gucht. 

'  Colley  Gibber's  "brazen  brainless  brothers."  According  to  Horace 
Walpole,  "one  of  the  Statues  was  the  portrait  of  Oliver  Cromwell's  porter, 
then  in  Bedlam." 



Hiftorical  Account 

OF    THE 

Cnjltfl)  ©tage , 


The  ancient  Ufe,  Improvement, 

and  Perfedlion,  of  Dramatick  Repre- 
fentations,  in  this  Nation. 

I  N  A 
Dialogue,  oi PLATS  ^ixid  PLATERS, 

—   Olim  meminijfe  juvabit. 


Printed  by  G.  Croom,  for  William  Haws  at  the 
Rofe  in  Liidgate-Jireet.     1699. 


Much  has  been  Writ  of  late  pro  and  con,  aboiit  the 
Stage,  yet  the  Subject  admits  of  more,  and  that  ivhich 
has  not  been  hetherto  toucht  upon  ;  not  only  what  that 
is,  but  zuhat  it  was,  about  which  some  People  have 
made  such  a  Busle.  What  it  is  we  see,  and  I  think 
it  has  been  sufficiently  display  d  in  Mr.  Collier'i"  Book; 
What  it  was  in  former  Ages,  and  hozv  used  in  this 
Kingdom,  so  far  back  as  one  may  collect  any  Memo- 
rialls,  is  the  Subject  of  the  following  Dialogue.  Old 
Plays  will  be  always  read  by  the  Curious,  if  it  were 
only  to  discover  the  Manners  and  Behaviour  of  several 
Ages  ;  and  how  they  alter  d.  For  Plays  are  exactly 
like  Portraits  Drawfi  in  the  Garb  and  Fashio7i  of  the 
time  when  Painted.  You.  see  one  Habit  in  the  time  of 
King  Charles  I.  another  quite  different  fro7n  that,  both 
for  Men  and  Women,  in  Qtieen  Elizabeths  time; 
another  under  Henry  the  Eighth  different  from  both; 
and  so  backward  all  various.  And  in  the  several 
Fashions  of  Behaviour  and  Conversation,  there  is  as 
much  Mutability  as  in  that  of  cloaths.  Religion  and 
Religious  matters  zvas  once  as  much  the  Mode  in 
publick  Entertai7ime7its,  as  the  Coiitrary  has  been  in 


some  times  since.  This  appears  in  the  different  Plays 
of  several  Ages:  And  to  evince  this,  the  following 
Sheets  are  an  Essay  or  Specimen. 

Some  may  think  the  Subject  of  this  Discourse 
trivial,  and  the  persons  herein  mention  d  not  worth 
remembering.  But  besides  that  I  could  name  some 
things  contested  of  late  with  great  heat,  of  as  little,  or 
less  Conseqtience,  the  Reader  may  know  that  the  Pro- 
fession of  Players  is  not  so  totally  scandalotis,  nor  all 
of  them  so  reprobate,  but  that  there  has  been  found 
tmder  that  Name,  a  Canonized  Saint  in  the  primi- 
tive Church ;  as  may  be  seeji  in  the  Roman 
Martyrology  on  the  29th  of  March ;  his  name 
Masculas  a  Master  of  Interludes,  (the  Latin  is 
Archimimus,  and  the  French  tra7islation  un  Maitre 
Comedien)  who  under  the  Persecution  of  the  Vandals 
in  Africa,  by  Geisericus  the  Arian  King,  having 
endured  many  and  greivious  Torments  and  Reproaches 
for  the  Confession  of  the  Truth,  finisht  the  Couj^se  of 
this  glorioles  Combat.     Saith  the  said  Martyrology. 

//  appears  from  this,  and  some  further  Instances  in 
the  following  Discourse,  That  there  have  been  Players 
of  worthy  Principles  as  to  Religion,  Loyalty,  and  other 
Virtues  ;  and  if  the  major  part  of  them  fall  under  a 
different  Character,  it  is  the  general  unhappincss  of 
Mankind,  that  the  Most  are  the  Worst. 




PLAYS    and    PLAYERS. 

LovEwiT,  Truman. 

LovEW.  Honest  Old  Cavalier!  well  met,  'faith 
I'm  glad  to  see  thee. 

Trum.  Have  a  care  what  you  call  me.  Old,  is  a 
Word  of  Disgrace  among  the  Ladies ;  to  be  Honest  is 
to  be  Poor,  and  Foolish,  (as  some  think)  and  Cavalier 
is  a  Word  as  much  out  of  Fashion  as  any  of  'em. 

Lovew.  The  more's  the  pity:  But  what  said  the 
Fortune-Teller  in  Ben.Johnsoiis  Mask  of  Gypsies,  to 
the  then  Lord  Privy  Seal, 

Honest  and  Old  ! 
In  those  the  Good  Part  of  a  Foiiune  is  told. 

Trum.  Ben.  Johnson  ?  How  dare  you  name 
Ben.  Johnson  in  these  times  ?  When  we  have  such  a 
crowd  of  Poets  of  a  quite  different  Genius  ;  the  least 
of  which  thinks  himself  as  well  able  to  correct  Ben. 
Johnson,  as  he  could  a  Country  School  Mistress  that 
taught  to  Spell. 

Lovew.  We  have  indeed.  Poets  of  a  different 
Genius  ;  so  are  the  Plays  :  but  in  my  Opinion,  they 


are  all  of  'em  (some  few  excepted)  as  much  inferior 
to  those  of  former  Times,  as  the  Actors  now  in  being 
(generally  speaking)  are,  compared  to  Hart,  Mohun, 
Btirt,  Lacy,  Chui,  and  Shattei^el ;  for  I  can  reach  no 
farther  backward. 

Trum.  I  can ;  and  dare  assure  you,  if  my  Fancy 
and  Memory  are  not  partial  (for  Men  of  my  Age 
are  apt  to  be  over  indulgent  to  the  Thoughts  of  their 
youthful  Days)  I  say  the  Actors  that  I  have  seen 
before  the  Wars,  Lowin,  Tayler,  Pollard,  and  some 
others,  were  almost  as  far  beyond  Hart  and  his 
Company,  as  those  were  beyond  these  now  in  being. 

LovEW.  I  am  willing  to  believe  it,  but  cannot 
readily ;  because  I  have  been  told.  That  those  whom 
I  mention'd,  were  Bred  up  under  the  others  of  your 
Acquaintance,  and  follow'd  their  manner  of  Action, 
which  is  now  lost.  So  far,  that  when  the  Question 
has  been  askt.  Why  these  Players  do  not  revive 
the  Silent  Woman,  and  some  other  of  Joknson^s 
Plays,  (once  of  highest  esteem)  they  have  answer'd, 
truly.  Because  there  are  none  now  Living  who  can 
rightly  Humour  those  Parts  ;  for  all  who  related 
to  the  Black-friers,  (where  they  were  Acted  in  per- 
fection) are  now  Dead,  and  almost  forgotten. 

Trum.  'Tis  very  true,  Hart  and  Cltcn,  were 
bred  up  Boys  at  the  Black-friers,  and  acted  Womens 
Parts,  Hart  was  Robinson's  Boy  or  Apprentice  :  He 
acted  the  Dutchess  in  the  Tragedy  of  the  Cardinal, 
which  was  the  first  Part  that  gave  him  Reputation. 
Cartwright,  and  Winters/ml  belong'd  to  the  private 


House  in  Salisbury-court,  Burt  was  a  Boy  first 
under  Shank  at  the  Black-friers,  then  under  Beeston 
at  the  Cockpit ;  and  Mohun,  and  Shatterel  were  in 
the  same  Condition  with  him,  at  the  last  Place.  There 
Burt  used  to  Play  the  principal  Women's  Parts,  in 
particular  Clariana  in  Loves  Cruelty  ;  and  at  the 
same  time  Mohun  acted  Bellamcntc,  which  Part  he 
retain'd  after  the  Restauration. 

LovEW.  That  I  have  seen,  and  can  well  remem- 
ber. I  wish  they  had  Printed  in  the  last  Age  (so  I 
call  the  times  before  the  Rebellion)  the  Actors  Names 
over  against  the  Parts  they  Acted,  as  they  have  done 
since  the  Restauration.  And  thus  one  might  have 
guest  at  the  Action  of  the  Men,  by  the  Parts  which 
we  now  Read  in  the  Old  Plays. 

Trum.  It  was  not  the  Custome  and  Usage  of 
those  Days,  as  it  hath  been  since.  Yet  some  few  Old 
Plays  there  are  that  have  the  Names  set  against  the 
Parts,  as.  The  Dutchess  of  Malfy  ;  the  Picture ;  the 
Roman  Actor ;  the  deserving  Favourite ;  the  Wild 
Goose  Chace,  (at  the  Black- friers)  the  Wedding;  the 
Renegado;  the  fair  Maid  of  the  West]  Hannibal  and 
Scipio  ;  Ki7ig  John  and  Matilda  ;  (at  the  Cockpit) 
and  Holland's  Leaguer,  (at  Salisbury  Court). 

LovEW.  These  are  but  few  indeed  :  But  pray 
Sir,  what  Master-Parts  can  you  remember  the  Old 
Black-friers  Men  to  Act,  m  Johnson,  Shakespear,  and 
Fletchers  Plays. 

Trum.  What  I  can  at  present  recollect  I'll  tell 
you ;   Shakespear,  (who  as  I  have  heard,  was  a  much 


better  Poet,  than  Player)  Burbadge,  Hemmings, 
and  others  of  the  Older  sort,  were  Dead  before  I 
knew  the  Town  ;  but  in  my  time,  before  the  Wars, 
Lowin  used  to  Act,  with  mighty  Applause,  Falstaffe, 
Moi'ose,  Volpone,  and  Mammon  in  the  Alchymist ; 
Melancius,  in  the  Maid's  Tragedy,  and  at  the  same 
time  Amyntor  was  Play'd  by  Stephen  Hammerton, 
(who  was  at  first  a  most  noted  and  beautiful  Woman 
Actor,  but  afterwards  he  acted  with  equal  Grace  and 
Applause,  a  Young  Lover's  Part)  ;  Tayler  Acted 
Hamlet  incomparably  well,  Jcigo,  Truewit  in  the 
Silent  Woman,  and  Face  in  the  Alchymist ;  Swan- 
ston  used  to  Play  Othello ;  Pollard,  and  Robinson 
were  Comedians,  so  was  Shank  who  us'd  to  Act  Sir 
Roger,  in  the  Scornful  Lady.  These  were  of  the 
Black-friers.  Those  of  principal  Note  at  the  Cock- 
pit, were,  Perkins,  Michael  Bowyer,  Snmner,  Wil- 
liam Allen,  and  Bird,  eminent  Actors,  and  Robins 
3.  Comedian.  Of  the  other  Companies  I  took  little 

LovEW.  Were  there  so  many  Companies  ? 

Trum.  Before  the  Wars,  there  were  in  beinp-  all 
these  Play-houses  at  the  same  time.  The  Black- 
friers,  and  Globe  on  the  Bankside,  a.  Winter  and 
Summer  House,  belonging  to  the  same  Company, 
called  the  King's  Servants;  the  Cockpit  or  Phcenix, 
in  Drury-lane,  called  the  Queen's  Servants ;  the 
private  House  in  Salisbury -court,  called  the  Prince's 
Servants  ;  the  Fortune  near  White-cross-street,  and 
the  Red  Bull  at  the  upper  end  of  St.  John  s-street : 


The  two  last  were  mostly  frequented  by  Citizens,  and 
the  meaner  sort  of  People.  All  these  Companies  got 
Money,  and  Liv'd  in  Reputation,  especially  those  of 
the  Black-friers,  who  were  Men  of  grave  and  sober 

LovEW.  Which  I  admire  at ;  That  the  Town 
much  less  than  at  present,  could  then  maintain  Five 
Companies,  and  yet  now  Two  can  hardly  subsist, 

Trum.  Do  not  wonder,  but  consider.  That  tho' 
the  Town  was  then,  perhaps,  not  much  more  than 
half  so  Populous  as  now,  yet  then  the  Prices  were 
small  (there  being  no  Scenes)  and  better  order  kept 
among  the  Company  that  came  ;  which  made  very 
good  People  think  a  Play  an  Innocent  Diversion 
for  an  idle  Hour  or  two,  the  Plays  themselves  being 
then,  for  the  most  part,  more  Instructive  and  Moral. 
Whereas  of  late,  the  Play-houses  are  so  extreamly 
pestered  with  Vizard-masks  and  their  Trade,  (occa- 
sioning continual  Quarrels  and  Abuses)  that  many  of 
the  more  Civilized  Part  of  the  Town  are  uneasy  in 
the  Company,  and  shun  the  Theater  as  they  would  a 
riouse  of  Scandal.  It  is  an  Argument  of  the  worth  of 
the  Plays  and  Actors,  of  the  last  Age,  and  easily  in- 
ferr'd,  that  they  were  much  beyond  ours  in  this,  to 
consider  that  they  cou'd  support  themselves  meerly 
from  their  own  Merit ;  the  weight  of  the  Matter,  and 
goodness  of  the  Action,  without  Scenes  and  Machines : 
Whereas  the  present  Plays  with  all  that  shew,  can 
hardly  draw  an  Audience,  unless  there  be  the  addi- 
tional Invitation    of  a  Signior  Fidcli,  a   Monsieur 


L\idde,  or  some  such  Foreign  Regale  exprest  in  the 
bottom  of  the  Bill 

LovEW.  To  wave  this  Digression,  I  have  Read 
of  one  Edzvai'-ci  Allin,  a  Man  so  famed  for  excellent 
Action,  that  among  Ben.  Johnsons  epigrams,  I  find 
one  directed  to  him,  full  of  Encomium,  and  con- 
cluding thus 

Wear  this  Renow7i,  ^t is  Just  that  who  did  give 
So  many  Poets  Life,  by  one  should  Live. 

Was  he  one  of  the  Black-friers'^ 

Trum.  Never,  as  I  have  heard;  (for  he  was  Dead 
before  my  time).  He  was  Master  of  a  Company 
of  his  own,  for  whom  he  Built  the  Fortune  Play- 
house from  the  Ground,  a  large,  round  Brick  Build- 
ing. This  is  he  that  grew  so  Rich  that  he  purchased 
a  great  estate  in  Surrey  and  elsewhere  ;  and  having 
no  Issue,  He  built  and  largely  endow'd  Dnlwich 
College,  in  the  Year  1619,  for  a  Master,  a  Warden, 
Four  Fellows,  Twelve  aged  poor  People,  and  Twelve 
poor  Boys,  &c.     A  noble  Charity. 

LovEW.  What  kind  of  Pla}^  houses  had  they 
before  the  Wars  ? 

Trum.  The  Black-friers,  Cockpit,  and  Salisbury- 
court,  were  called  Private  Houses,  and  were  very 
small  to  what  we  see  now.  The  Cockpit  was  stand- 
ing since  the  Restauration,  and  Rhodes  Company 
Acted  there  for  some  time. 

LovEW.  I  have  seen  that. 

Trum.  Then  you  have  seen  the  other  two,  in 
effect ;  for  they  were  all  three  Built  almost  exactly 


alike,  for  Form  and  Bigness.  Here  they  had  Pits  for 
the  Gentry,  and  Acted  by  Candle-Hght.  The  Globe, 
Fortune  and  Bull,  were  large  Houses,  and  lay  partly 
open  to  the  Weather,  and  there  they  alwaies  Acted 
by  Daylight. 

LovEW.  But,  prithee,  Truman,  what  became  of 
these  Players  when  the  Stage  was  put  down,  and 
the  Rebellion  rais'd  ? 

Trum.  Most  of  'em,  except  Lozvin,  Tayler  and 
Pollard  (who  were  superannuated)  went  into  the 
King's  Army,  and  like  good  Men  and  true,  Serv'd  their 
Old  Master,  tho'  in  a  different,  yet  more  honourable, 
Capacity.  Robinson  was  Kill'd  at  the  Taking  of  a 
Place,  (I  think  Basing  Hotise)  by  Harrison,  he  that 
was  after  Hang'd  at  Charing-cross,  who  refused  him 
Quarter,  and  Shot  him  in  the  Head  when  he  had 
laid  down  his  Arms ;  abusing  Scripture  at  the  same 
time,  in  saying.  Cursed  is  he  that  doth  the  Work  of 
the  Lord  7iegligently .  Mohiin  was  a  Captain,  (and 
after  the  Wars  were  ended  here,  served  in  Flanders, 
where  he  received  Pay  as  a  Major)  Hart  was  a 
Lieutenant  of  Horse  under  Sir  Thomas  Dallison,  in 
Prince  Rupert's  Regiment,  Burt  was  Cornet  in  the 
same  Troop,  and  Shatterel  Quarter-master.  Allen  of 
the  Cockpit,  \i2js>  a  Major,  and  Quarter  Master  General 
at  Oxford.  I  have  not  heard  of  one  of  these  Players 
of  any  Note  that  sided  with  the  other  Party,  but  only 
Swansto7i,  and  he  profest  himself  a  Presbyterian, 
took  up  the  Trade  of  a  Jeweller,  and  liv'd  in  Aldcr- 
manbury,  within  the  Territory  of  Father  Calamy.  The 


rest  either  Lost,  or  expos'd  their  Lives  for  their  King. 
When  the  Wars  were  over,  and  the  Royalists  totally 
Subdued,  most  of 'em  who  were  left  alive  gather'd  to 
London,  and  for  a  Subsistence  endeavour'd  to  revive 
their  Old  Trade,  privately.  They  made  up  one  Com- 
pany out  of  all  the  Scatter'd  Members  of  Several ; 
and  in  the  Winter  before  the  King's  Murder,  1648, 
they  ventured  to  Act  some  Plays  with  as  much 
caution  and  privacy  as  cou'd  be,  at  the  Cockpit.  They 
continu'd  undisturbed  for  three  or  four  Days ;  but  at 
last  as  they  were  presenting  the  Tragedy  of  the 
Bloiidy  Brothel'  (in  which  Lowin  Acted  Aubrey, 
Tayler  Rollo,  Pollard  the  Cook,  Burt  Latorch,  and 
I  think  Hart  Otto)  a  Party  of  Foot  Souldiers  beset 
the  House,  surpriz'd  'em  about  the  midle  of  the  Play, 
and  carried  'em  away  in  their  habits,  not  admitting 
them  to  shift,  to  Hatton-house,  then  a  Prison,  where 
having  detain'd  them  some  time,  they  Plunder'd 
them  of  their  Cloths  and  let  'em  loose  again.  After- 
wards in  Olivers  time,  they  used  to  Act  privately, 
three  or  four  Miles,  or  more,  out  of  Town,  now 
here,  now  there,  sometimes  in  Noblemens  Houses, 
in  particular  Holland-house  at  Keiisington,  where  the 
Nobility  and  Gentry  who  met  (but  in  no  great  Num- 
bers) used  to  make  a  Sum  for  them,  each  giving  a 
broad  Peice,  or  the  like.  And  Alexander  Goffe,  the 
Woman  Actor  at  Black-friers  (who  had  made  himself 
known  to  Persons  of  Quality)  used  to  be  the  Jackal, 
and  give  notice  of  Time  and  Place.  At  Christmass, 
and  Bartlemew-fair,  they  used  to  Bribe  the  Officer 


who  Commanded  die  Guard  at  Whitehall,  and  were 
thereupon  connived  at  to  Act  for  a  few  Days,  at  the 
Red  Bull ;  but  were  sometimes  notwithstanding 
Disturb'd  by  Soldiers.  Some  pickt  up  a  httle  Money 
by  pubHshing  the  Copies  of  Plays  never  before 
Printed,  but  kept  up  in  Manuscript.  For  instance,  in 
the  Year  1652,  Beai^nont  and  Fletcher  ?,  Wild  Goose 
Chace  was  Printed  in  P"olio,  y^^r  the  Public  use  of  all 
the  higenious,  (as  the  Title-page  says)  and  private 
Beuejit  of  ]o\'\n  Lowin  a7id  Joseph  Tayler,  Servants 
to  his  late  Majesty  ;  and  by  them  Dedicated  To  the 
Honour  d  few  Lovers  of  Dramatick  Poesy.  Wherein 
they  modestly  intimate  their  Wants.  And  that  with 
sufficient  Cause  ;  for  whatever  they  were  before  the 
Wars,  they  were,  after,  reduced  to  a  necessitous  Con- 
dition. Lowin  in  his  latter  Days,  kept  an  Inn  (the 
three  Pidgions)  at  Bj'cntford,  where  he  dyed  very  Old, 
(for  he  was  an  Actor  of  eminent  Note  in  the  Reign 
oiY^.  James  \^^  first)  and  his  Poverty  was  as  great  as 
his  Age.  Tayler  Dyed  at  Richmond  2ind  was  there 
Buried.  Pollard  who  Lived  Single,  and  had  a  Com- 
petent Estate ;  Retired  to  some  Relations  he  had  in 
the  Country,  and  there  ended  his  Life.  Perkins  and 
Sumner  of  the  Cockpit,  kept  House  together  at 
Clerkenwel,  and  were  there  Buried.  These  all  Dyed 
some  Years  before  the  Restauration.  What  follow'd 
after,  I  need  not  tell  you  :  You  can  easily  Remember. 
LovEW.  Yes,  presently  after  the  Restauration,  the 
King's  Players  Acted  publickly  at  the  Red  Bttll  for 
some  time,  and  then  Removed  to  a  New-built  Play- 


house  in  Vere-sireet,  by  Claremarket.  There  they 
continued  for  a  Year  or  two,  and  then  removed  to 
the  Theater  Royal  in  Drury-lane,  where  they  first 
made  use  of  Scenes,  which  had  been  a  little  before 
introduced  upon  the  publick  Stage  by  Sir  William 
Davenant  at  the  Dukes  Old  Theater  in  Liiicolns- 
Inn-fields,  but  afterwards  very  much  improved,  with 
the  Addition  of  curious  Machines,  by  Mr.  Bettert07t 
at  the  New  Theater  in  Dorset-Gardeji,  to  the  great 
Expence  and  continual  Charge  of  the  Players.  This 
much  impair'd  their  Profit  o'er  what  it  was  before ; 
for  I  have  been  inform'd,  (by  one  of  'em)  That  for 
several  Years  next  after  the  Restauration,  every  whole 
Sharer  in  Mr.  Hart'?,  Company,  got  \oool.  per  an. 
About  the  same  time  that  Scenes  first  enter'd  upon 
the  Stage  at  London,  Women  were  taught  to  Act  their 
own  Parts  ;  since  when,  we  have  seen  at  both  Houses 
several  excellent  Actresses,  justly  famed  as  well  for 
Beauty,  as  perfect  good  Action.  And  some  Plays  (in 
particular  The  Parsons  Wedding)  have  been  Pre- 
sented all  by  Women,  as  formerly  all  by  Men.  Thus 
it  continued  for  about  20  Years,  when  Mr.  Hart  and 
some  of  the  Old  Men  began  to  grow  weary,  and  were 
minded  to  leave  off ;  then  the  two  Companies  thought 
fit  to  Unite  ;  but  of  late,  you  see,  they  have  thought  it 
no  less  fit  to  Divide  again,  though  both  Companies 
keep  the  same  Name  of  his  Majesty's  Servants.  All 
this  while  the  Play-house  Musick  improved  Yearly, 
and  is  now  arrived  to  greater  Perfection  than  ever  I 
knew  it.  Yet  for  all  these  Advantages,  the  Reputation 


of  the  Stage,  and  Peoples  Affection  to  it,  are  much 
Decay'd.  Some  were  lately  severe  against  it,  and 
would  hardly  allow  Stage-Plays  fit  to  be  longer 
permitted.      Have  you  seen  Mr.  Collier  •=>  book  ? 

Trum.  Yes,  and  his  Opposer's. 

LovEW.  And  what  think  you  ? 

Trum.  In  my  mind  Mr.  Collier ?>  Reflections 
are  Pertinent,  and  True  in  the  Main ;  the  Book  inge- 
niously Writ,  and  well  Intended  :  But  he  has  over- 
shot himself  in  some  Places  ;  and  his  Respondents, 
perhaps,  in  more.  My  Affection  inclines  me  not  to 
Engage  on  either  side,  but  rather  Mediate.  If  there 
be  Abuses  relating  to  the  Stage ;  (which  I  think  is 
too  apparent)  let  the  Abuse  be  Reformed,  and  not 
the  use,  for  that  Reason  only,  Abolish'd.  'Twas  an 
Old  saying  when  I  was  a  Boy, 

Absit  Abusus,  iion  desit  total ite)-  Usus. 

I  shall  not  run  through  Mr.  Colliei^'s  Book  ;  I  will 
only  touch  a  little  on  two  or  three  general  Notions, 
in  which,  I  think  he  may  be  mistaken.  What  he 
urges  out  of  the  Primitive  Councils,  and  Fathers  of 
the  Church,  seems  to  me  to  be  directed  against  the 
Heathen  Plays,  which  were  a  sortof  Religious  Worship 
with  them,  to  the  Honour  of  Ceres,  Flora,  or  some  of 
their  false  Deities  ;  they  had  always  a  little  Altar  on 
their  Stages,  as  appears  plain  enough  from  some 
places  in  Plauttts.  And  Mr.  Collier  himself,  p.  235, 
tells  us  out  of  Livy,  that  Plays  were  brought  in  upon 
the  Score  of  Religion,  to  pacify  the  Gods.   No  wonder 



then,  they  forbid  Christians  to  be  present  at  them, 
for  it  was  ahiiost  the  same  as  to  be  present  at  their 
Sacrifices.  We  must  also  observe  that  this  was  in 
the  Infancy  of  Christianity,  when  the  Church  was 
under  severe,  and  almost  continual  Persecutions,  and 
when  all  its  true  Members  were  of  most  strict  and 
exemplary  Lives,  not  knowing  when  they  should  be 
call'd  to  the  Stake,  or  thrown  to  Wild-Beasts.  They 
communicated  Daily,  and  expected  Death  hourly  ; 
their  thoughts  were  intent  upon  the  next  World,  they 
abstain'd  almost  wholly  from  all  Diversions  and  plea- 
sures (though  lawfull  and  Innocent)-4fl^  this.  After- 
wards when  Persecution  ceased,  and  the  church 
flourisht,  Christians  being  then  freed  from  their 
former  Terrors,  allow'd  themselves,  at  proper  times, 
the  lawfull  Recreations  of  Conversation,  and  among 
other  (no  doubt)  this  of  Shewes  and  Representations. 
After  this  time,  the  Censures  of  the  Church  indeed, 
might  be  continued,  or  revived,  upon  occasion, 
against  Plays  and  Players  ;  tho'  (in  my  Opinion)  it 
cannot  be  understood  generally,  but  only  against  such 
Players  who  were  of  Vicious  and  Licencious  Lives, 
and  represented  profane  Subjects,  inconsistant  with 
the  Morals  and  probity  of  Manners  requisite  to 
Christians  ;  and  frequented  chiefly  by  such  loose  and 
Debaucht  People,  as  were  much  more  apt  to  Corrupt 
than  Divert  those  who  associated  with  them.  I  say,  I 
cannot  think  the  Canons  and  Censures  of  the  Fathers 
can  be  applyed  to  all  Players,  quatemis  Players ;  for 
if  so  how  could  Plays  be  continued  among  the  Chris- 


tians,  as  they  were,  of  Divine  Subjects,  and  Scriptural 
Stories  ?  A  late  French  Author,  speaking  of  the 
Original  of  the  Hotel  da  Bourgogne  (a  Play-house  in 
Pai'is)  says  that  the  ancient  Dukes  of  that  Name 
gave  it  to  the  Brotherhood  of  the  Passion,  esta- 
blished in  the  Church  of  Trinity-Hospital  in  the 
R7te  S.  Denis,  on  condition  that  they  should  repre- 
sent here  Interludes  of  Devotion  :  And  adds  that 
there  have  been  public  Shews  in  this  Place  600 
Years  ago.  The  Spanish  and  Portuguize  continue 
still  to  have,  for  the  most  part,  such  Ecclesiastical 
Stories,  for  the  Subject  of  their  Plays  :  And,  if  we 
may  believe  Gage,  they  are  Acted  in  their  Churches 
in  Mexico,  and  the  Spanish  West-Indies. 

LovEW.  That's  a  great  way  off,  Trtcman  ;  I  had 
rather  you  would  come  nearer  Home,  and  confine 
your  discourse  to  Old  England. 

Trum.  So  I  intend.  The  same  has  been  done 
here  in  England;  for  otherwise  how  comes  it  to  be 
prohibited  in  the  88///  Canon,  among  those  past  in 
Convocation,  1603.  Certain  it  is  that  our  ancient 
Plays  were  of  Religious  Subjects,  and  had  for  their 
Actors,  (if  not  Priests)  yet  Men  relating  to  the  Church. 

LovEW.   How  does  that  appear  ? 

Trum.  Nothing  clearer.  Stozu  in  his  Survey  of 
London,  has  one  Chapter  of  the  Sports  and  Pas- 
times of  old  time  used  in  this  City ;  and  there  he 
tells  us,  That  in  the  Year  1391  (which  was  15 
R.  2.)  a  Stage- Play  was  play'd  by  the  Parish- 
Clerks    of    London, ,  at     the    Skinner  s-well   beside 


S77iit/i/ield,  which  Play  continued  three  Days  to- 
gether, the  King,  Queen,  and  Nobles  of  the  Realm 
being  present.  And  another  was  play'd  in  the  Year 
1409,  (11  H.  4.)  which  lasted  eight  Days,  and  was 
of  Matter  from  the  Creation  of  the  World  ;  whereat 
was  present  most  part  of  the  Nobility  and  Gentry  of 
Eiigland.  Sir  William  Dugdale,  in  his  Antiquities 
of  Warwickshire,  p.  116,  speaking  of  the  Gray-friers 
(or  Franciscans^  at  Covc7itry,  says,  Before  the  sup- 
pression of  the  Monasteries,  this  City  was  very 
famous  for  the  Pageants  that  were  play'd  therein 
upon  Corpus-Christi  Day ;  which  Pageants  being 
acted  with  mighty  State  and  Reverence  by  the  Friers 
of  this  House,  had  Theatres  for  the  several  Scenes 
very  large  and  high,  plac'd  upon  Wheels,  and  drawn 
to  all  the  eminent  Parts  of  the  City,  for  the  better 
advantage  of  the  Spectators ;  and  contain'd  the  Story 
of  the  New  Testament,  composed  in  old  English 
Rhime.  An  ancient  Manuscript  of  the  same  is  now 
to  be  seen  in  the  Cotlonian  Library,  Sicd  Effig. 
Vespat.  D.  8.  Since  the  Reformation,  in  Queen 
ElizabetJis  time.  Plays  were  frequently  acted  by 
Quiristers  and  Singing  Boys  ;  and  several  of  our  old 
Comedies  have  printed  in  the  Title  Page,  Acted  by 
the  Children  of  Paul's,  (not  the  School,  but  the 
Church)  others.  By  the  Childj^en  of  Her  Majesty's 
Chappel ;  in  particular,  Cinthias  Revels,  and  the 
Poetaster  were  play'd  by  them  ;  who  were  at  that 
time  famous  for  good  Action.  Among  Be7i.  John- 
sons Epigrams  you  may  find  An  Epitaph  on  S.  P. 


(Sal  Pavy)  one  of  the  Children  of  Queen  Elizabeth's 
Chappel,  part  of  which  runs  thus, 

Years  he  counted  scarce  Thirteen 

When  Fates  turn'd  Cruel, 
Yet  three  filPd  Zodiacks  he  had  been 

The  Stages  Jciu ell ; 
And  did  act  {what  now  we  7noan) 

Old  Men  so  duly, 
As,  sooth,  the  Parcse  thought  hitn  one. 

He  played  so  truly. 

Some  of  these  Chappel  Boys,  when  they  grew  Men, 
became  Actors  at  the  Black-friers ;  such  were  Nathan 
Feild,  and  John  Underwood.  Now  I  can  hardly 
imagine  that  such  Plays  and  Players  as  these,  are 
included  in  the  severe  Censure  of  the  Councils  and 
Fathers  ;  but  such  only  who  are  truly  within  the 
Character  given  by  Didacus  de  Tapia,  cited  by  Mr. 
Collier,  p.  276,  viz.  The  Infamous  Playhouse  ;  a  place 
of  contradiction  to  the  strictness  and  sobriety  of  Reli- 
gion ;  a  place  hated  by  God,  and  haunted  by  the  Devil. 
And  for  such  I  have  as  great  an  abhorrance  as  any 

LovEW.  Can  you  guess  of  what  Antiquity  the 
representing  of  Religious  Matters,  on  the  Stage,  hath 
been  in  England"^ 

Trum.  How  long  before  the  Conquest  I  know 
not,  but  that  it  was  used  in  London  not  long  after, 
appears  by  Fitz-Stevejis,  an  Author  who  wrote  in 
the  reign  of  King  Henry  the  Second.  His  words 
are,  Londonia  pro  spectaculis  theatralibus,  pro  ludis 
scenicis,  hidos  habct  sanctiores,  Representationes  mira- 


culortnn,  qiice  sancti  Confessores  operati  stmt,  seu 
Representationes  passionum  quibus  claruit  constantia 
Martyrum.  Of  this,  the  Manuscript  which  I  lately 
mention'd,  in  the  Cottonian  Library,  is  a  notable 
instance.  Sir  William  Dugdale  cites  this  Manu- 
script, by  the  Title  of  LiidiLs  CoventricB  ;  but  in 
the  printed  Catalogue  of  that  Library,  p.  113,  it  is 
named  thus,  A  Collection  of  Plays  in  old  English 
Metre,  h.  e.  Dramata  sacra  in  qitibus  exhibentur 
histories  Veteris  &  JV.  Testamenti,  introductis  quasi 
in  Scenam  pei^sonis  illic  memoratis,  quas  secum  in- 
vicem  colloquentes  p7^o  ingenio  fingit  Poeta.  Viden- 
tiLr  olim  coram  poptdo,  sive  ad  iJistruendum  sive  ad 
placendum,  a  fratribus  tnendicantibus  reprc€sentata. 
It  appears  by  the  latter  end  of  the  Prologue,  that 
these  Plays  or  Interludes,  were  not  only  play'd  at 
Coventry,  but  in  other  Towns  and  Places  upon  occa- 
sion. And  possibly  this  may  be  the  same  Play  which 
Stow  tells  us  was  play'd  in  the  reign  of  King  Hemy 
IV.,  which  lasted  for  Eight  Days.  The  Book  seems 
by  the  Character  and  Language  to  be  at  least  300 
Years  old.  It  begins  with  a  general  Prologue,  giving 
the  arguments  of  40  Pageants  or  Gesticulations 
(which  were  as  so  many  several  Acts  or  Scenes) 
representing  all  the  Histories  of  both  Testaments, 
from  the  Creation,  to  the  choosing  of  St.  Mathias  to 
be  an  Apostle.  The  Stories  of  the  New  Testament 
are  more  largely  exprest,  viz.  The  Annunciation, 
Nativity,  Visitation  ;  but  more  especially  all  Matters 
relating  to  the  Passion  very  particularly,  the  Resur- 


rectlon,  Ascention,  the  choice  of  St.  Mathias:  After 
which  is  also  represented  the  Assumption,  and  last 
Judgment.  All  these  things  were  treated  of  in  a 
very  homely  style,  (as  we  now  think)  infinitely  below 
the  Dignity  of  the  Subject :  But  it  seems  the  Gust 
of  that  Age  was  not  so  nice  and  delicate  in  these 
Matters;  the  plain  and  incurious  Judgment  of  our 
Ancestors,  being  prepared  with  favour,  and  taking 
every  thing  by  the  right  and  easiest  Handle:  For 
example,  in  the  Scene  relating  to  the  Visitation  : 

Maria.  But  husband  of  oo  thyng  pray  you  most  mekely, 
I  haue  knowing  that  our  Cosyn  EUzabeth  with  childe  is, 
That  it  please  yow  to  go  to  her  hastyly, 
If  ought  we  myth  comfort  her  it  wer  to  me  blys. 

Joseph.  A  Gods  sake,  is  she  with  child,  sche  ? 
Than  will  her  husband  Zachary  be  mery. 
In  Montana  they  dwelle,  fer  hence,  so  moty  the, 
In  the  city  of  Juda,  I  know  it  verily  ; 
It  is  hence  I  trowe  myles  two  a  fifty, 
We  ar  like  to  be  wery  or  we  come  at  the  same. 
I  wole  with  a  good  will,  blessyd  wyff  Mary ; 
Now  go  we  forth  then  in  goddys  name,  &c. 

A  little  before  the  Resurrection  : 

Nunc  dormient  militcs,  e^  venid  a?iiina   Christi  de  i?ifcr)io,  cum 
Adam  6^  Eva,  Abraham,  John  Baptist,  6^  aiiis. 

Anima  Christi.  Come  forth  Adam,  and  Eve  with  the, 
And  all  my  fryndes  that  herein  be. 
In  Paradys  come  forth  with  me 

In  blysse  for  to  dwelle. 
The  fende  of  hell  that  is  yowr  foo 
He  shall  be  wrappyd  and  woundyn  in  woo  : 
Fro  wo  to  welth  now  shall  ye  go, 

With  myrth  cucr  mor  to  melle. 


Adam.  I  thank  the  Lord  of  thy  grete  grace 
That  now  is  forgiuen  my  gret  trespace, 
Now  shall  we  dvvellyn  in  blyssful  pace,  &c. 

The  last  Scene  or  Pageant,  which  represents  the 
Day  of  Judgment,  begins  thus: 

Michael.  Surgite,  All  men  aryse, 
Venite  ad  judicium, 
For  now  is  set  the  High  Justice, 
And  hath  assignyd  the  day  of  Dome  : 
Kepe  you  redyly  to  this  grett  assyse, 
Both  gret  and  small,  all  and  sum, 
And  of  yowr  answer  you  now  advise. 
What  you  shall  say  when  that  yow  com,  &c. 

These  and  such  Hke,  were  the  Plays  which  in 
former  Ages  were  presented  publickly  :  Whether 
they  had  any  settled  and  constant  Houses  for  that 
purpose,  does  not  appear ;  I  suppose  not.  But  it  is 
notorious  that  in  former  times  there  was  hardly  ever 
any  Solemn  Reception  of  Princes,  or  Noble  Persons, 
but  Pageants  (that  is  Stages  Erected  in  the  open 
Street)  were  part  of  the  Entertainment.  On  which 
there  were  Speeches  by  one  or  more  Persons,  in  the 
nature  of  Scenes  ;  and  be  sure  one  of  the  Speakers 
must  be  some  Saint  of  the  same  Name  with  the 
Party  to  whom  the  Honour  is  intended.  For  in- 
stance, there  is  an  ancient  Manuscript  at  Coventry, 
call'd  the  Old  Leet  Book,  wherein  is  set  down  in  a 
very  particular  manner,  (fo.  i68)  the  reception  of 
Queen  Margaret,  wife  oi  H.  6,  who  came  to  Coventry 
(and  I  think,  with  her,  her  young  Son,  Vrmz^  Edward) 
on  the  Feast  of  the  Exaltation  of  the  Holy-Cross,  35 


H.  6.  (1456).     Many  Pageants  and  Speeches  were 

made  for  her  Welcome  ;  out  of  all  which,   I   shall 

observe  but  two  or  three,  in  the  Old  English,  as  it  is 


St.  Edward.  Moder  of  mekenes,   Dame  Margarete,  princes 
most  excellent, 
I  King  Edward  wellcome  you  with  affection  cordial, 
Certefying  to  your  highnes  mekely  myn  entent, 
For  the  wele  of  the  King  and  you  hertily  pray  I  shall, 
And  for  prince  Edward  my  gostly  chylde,  who  I  love  principal. 
Praying  the,  John  Evangelist,  my  help  therein  to  be. 
On  that  condition  right  humbly  I  giue  this  Ring  to  the. 

John  Evangelist.  Holy    Edward   crowned    King,  Brother  in 
My  power  plainly  I  will  prefer  thy  will  to  amplefy. 
Most  excellent  princes  of  wymen  mortal,  your  Bedeman  will  I  be. 
I  know  your  Life  so  vertuous  that  God  is  pleased  thereby. 
The  birth  of  you  unto  this  Reme  shall  cause  great  Melody  : 
The  vertuous  voice  of  Prince  Edward  shall  dayly  well  encrease, 
St.  Edward  his  Godfader  and  I  shall  pray  therefore  doubtlese. 

St.  Margaret.  Most  notabul  princes  of  wymen  earthle, 
Dame  Margarete,  the  chefe  myrth  of  this  Empyre, 
Ye  be  hertely  welcome  to  this  Cyte. 
To  the  plesure  of  your  highnesse  I  wyll  set  my  desyre ; 
Both  nature  and  gentlenesse  doth  me  require, 
Seth  we  be  both  of  one  name,  to  shew  you  kindnesse ; 
Wherefore  by  my  power  ye  shall  have  no  distresse. 

I  shall  pray  to  the  Prince  that  is  endlese 
To  socour  you  with  solas  of  his  high  grace  ; 
He  will  here  my  petition  this  is  doubtlesse. 
For  I  wrought  all  my  life  that  his  will  wace. 
Therefore,  Lady,  when  you  be  in  any  dredfull  case, 
Call  on  me  boldly,  thereof  I  pray  you. 
And  trust  in  me  feythfully,  I  will  do  that  may  pay  you. 

In  the  next  Reign  (as  appears  in  the  same  Book, 


fo.  22 1 )  an  Other  Prince  Eciiuard,  Son  of  King  Edward 
the  4,  came  to  Coventiy  on  the  28  oi  April,  \\E.  4, 
(1474)  and  was  entertain'd  with  many  Pageants  and 
Speeches,  among  which  I  shall  observe  only  two  : 
one  was  of  St.  Edward  again,  who  was  then  made 
to  speak  thus, 

Noble  Prince  Edward,  my  Cousin  and  my  Knight, 
And  very  Prince  of  our  Line  com  yn  dissent, 
I  Saint  Edward  have  pursued  for  your  faders  imperial  Right, 
Whereof  he  was  excluded  by  full  furious  intent. 
Unto  this  your  Chamber  as  prince  full  excellent 
Ye  be  right  welcome.     Thanked  be  Crist  of  his  sonde, 
For  that  that  was  ours  is  now  in  your  faders  honde. 

The  other  Speech  was  from  St.  George  \  and  thus 
saith  the  Book. 

Also  upon  the  Condite  in  the  Croscheping  was  St. 

George  armed,  and  a  kings  daughter  kneling  afore  him  with  a 
Lamb,  and  the  fader  and  the  moder  being  in  a  Towre  aboven 
beholding  St.  George  saving  their  daughter  from  the  Dragon, 
and  the  Condite  renning  wine  in  four  places,  and  Minstralcy  of 
Organ  playing,  and  St.  George  hauing  this  Speech  under- 

O  mighty  God  our  all  succour  celestiall. 
Which  this  Royme  hast  given  in  dower 
To  thi  moder,  and  to  me  George  protection  perpetuall 
It  to  defend  from  enimys  fer  and  nere. 
And  as  this  mayden  defended  was  here 
By  thy  grace  from  this  Dragons  devour, 
So,  Lord  preserve  this  noble  prince,  and  ever  be  his  socour. 

LovEW.  I  perceive  these  holy  Matters  consisted 
very  much  of  Praying ;  but  I  pitty  poor  St.  Edward 
the  Confessor,  who  in  the  compass  of  a  few  Years, 
was  made  to  promise  his   favour  and  assistance  to 

OF    THE    ENGLISH    STAGE.  xHii 

two  young  Princes  of  the  same  Name  Indeed,  but  of 
as  different  and  opposite  Interests  as  the  two  Poles. 
I  know  not  how  he  could  perform  to  both. 

Trum.  Alas  !  they  were  both  unhappy,  notwith- 
standing these  fine  Shews  and  seeming  caresses 
of  Fortune,  being  both  murder'd,  one  by  the  Hand, 
the  other  by  the  procurement  of  Rich.  Duke  of 
Glocester.  I  will  produce  but  one  Example  more  of 
this  sort  of  Action,  or  Representations,  and  that  is  of 
later  time,  and  an  instance  of  much  higher  Nature 
than  any  yet  mentioned,  it  was  at  the  marriage  of 
Prince  Artlmr,  eldest  Son  of  king  Henry  7.  to  the 
Vrmc&ss  Catherine  oi  Spain,  An.  1501.  Her  passage 
through  London  was  very  magnificent,  as  I  have 
read  it  described  in  an  old  M.S.  Chronicle  of  that 
time.  The  Pageants  and  Speeches  were  many;  the 
Persons  represented  St.  Catherine,  St.  Ursnla,  a 
Senator,  Noblesse,  Virtue,  an  Angel,  King  Alphonse, 
Job,  Boetius,  &c.  among  others  one  is  thus  described. 

When  this  Spech  was  ended,  she  held  on  her  way  tyll  she 
cam  unto  the  Standard  in  Chepe,  where  was  ordeyned  the  fifth 
Pagend  made  like  an  hevyn,  theryn  syttyng  a  Personage  represent- 
ing the  fader  of  hevyn,  beyng  all  formyd  of  Gold,  and  brennying 
beffor  his  trone  vii  Candyilis  of  wax  standyng  in  vii  Candyl- 
stykis  of  Gold,  the  said  personage  beyng  environed  wyth  sundry 
Hyrarchies  off  Angelis,  and  sytting  in  a  Cope  of  most  rich  cloth 
of  Tyssu,  garnishyd  wyth  stoon  and  perle  in  most  sumptuous 
wyse.  Foragain  which  said  Pagend  upon  the  sowth  syde  of  the 
strete  stood  at  that  tyme,  in  a  hows  wheryn  that  tyme  dwellyd 
William  Geffrey  habyrdasher,  the  king,  the  Quene,  my  Lady  the 
Kingys  moder,  my  Lord  of  Oxynfford,  with  many  othir  Lordys 
and  Ladys,  and  Perys  of  this  Realm,  wyth  also  certayn  Ambas- 
sadors of  France  lately  sent  from  the  French   King ;    and  so 


passyng  the  said  Estatys,  eyther  guyvyng  to  other  due  and  con- 
venyent  Saluts  and  Countenancs,  so  sone  as  hyr  grace  was 
approachid  unto  the  sayd  Pagend,  the  fadyr  began  his  Spech  as 
folowyth  : 

Hunc  venefaj/i  locufn,  septeno  lumine  septum. 
Dignumque  Arthuri  tot  idem  astra  micant. 

I  am  begynyng  and  ende,  that  made  ech  creature 
My  sylfe,  and  for  my  sylfe,  but  man  esspecially 
Both  male  and  female,  made  aftyr  myne  aun  fygure, 
Whom  I  joyned  togydyr  in  Matrimony 
And  that  in  Paradyse,  declaring  opynly 
That  men  shall  weddyng  in  my  Chyrch  solempnize, 
Fygurid  and  signifyed  by  the  erthly  Paradyze. 

In  thys  my  Chyrch  I  am  alhvay  recydent 
As  my  chyeff  tabernacle,  and  most  chosyn  place, 
Among  these  goldyn  candylstikkis,  which  represent 
My  Catholyk  Chyrch,  shynyng  affor  my  face, 
With  lyght  of  feyth,  wisdom,  doctryne,  and  grace, 
And  mervelously  eke  enflamyd  toward  me 
Wyth  the  extyngwible  fyre  of  Charyte. 

Wherefore,  my  welbelovid  dowgthyr  Katharj'n, 
Syth  I  have  made  yow  to  myne  awn  semblance 
In  my  Chyrch  to  be  maried,  and  your  noble  Childryn 
To  regn  in  this  land  as  in  their  enher}'tance, 
Se  that  ye  have  me  in  speciall  remembrance  : 
Love  me  and  my  Chyrch  yowr  spiritual  modyr. 
For  ye  dispysing  that  oon,  dyspyse  that  othyr. 

Look  that  ye  walk  in  my  precepts,  and  obey  them  well : 
And  here  I  give  you  the  same  blyssyng  that  I 
Gave  my  well  beloved  chylder  of  Israeli ; 
Blyssyd  be  the  fruyt  of  your  bely ; 

Yower  substance  and  frutys  I  shall  encrease  and  multyply; 
Yower  rebellious  Enimyes  I  shall  put  in  yowr  hand, 
Encreasing  in  honour  both  yow  and  yowr  land. 

LovEW.  This  would  be  censured  now  a  days  as 
profane  to  the  highest  degree. 

OF    THE    ENGLISH    STAGE.  xlv 

Trum.  No  doubt  on't :  Yet  you  see  there  was 
a  time  when  People  were  not  so  nicely  censorious  in 
these  Matters,  but  were  willing  to  take  things  in  the 
best  sence :  and  then  this  was  thought  a  noble 
Entertainment  for  the  greatest  King  in  Eiirope 
(such  I  esteem  King  H.  7.  at  that  time)  and  proper 
for  that  Day  of  mighty  Joy  and  Triumph.  And  I 
must  farther  observe  out  of  the  Lord  Bacons  History 
of  ^.  7.  that  the  chief  Man  who  had  the  care  of  that 
Days  Proceedings  was  Bishop  Fox,  a  grave  Coun- 
celor  for  War  or  Peace,  and  also  a  good  Surveyor 
of  Works,  and  a  good  Master  of  Cerimonies,  and  it 
seems  he  approv'd  it.  The  said  Lord  Bacon  tells  us 
farther,  That  whosoever  had  those  Toys  in  com- 
piling, they  were  not  altogether  Pedantical. 

LovEW.  These  things  however  are  far  from  that 
which  we  understand  by  the  name  of  a  Play. 

Trum.  It  may  be  so ;  but  these  were  the  Plays 
of  those  times.  Afterwards  in  the  Reign  of  K.  H.  8. 
both  the  Subject  and  Form  of  these  Plays  began  to 
alter,  and  have  since  varied  more  and  more.  I 
have  by  me,  a  thing  called  A  merry  Play  between 
the  Pardoner  and  the  Frere,  the  Cnrate  and  Neybour 
Pratte.  Printed  the  5  of  April  1533,  which  was 
24  H.  8.  (a  few  Years  before  the  Dissolution  of 
Monasteries).  The  design  of  this  Play  was  to  redi- 
cule  Friers  and  Pardoners.  Of  which  Fll  give  you  a 
taste.  To  begin  it,  the  Fryer  enters  with  these  Words, 

Deus  hie  ;  the  holy  Trynyte 
Preseruc  all  that  now  here  be. 


Dere  bretherne,  yf  ye  will  consyder 

The  Cause  why  I  am  com  hyder, 

Ye  wolde  be  glad  to  knowe  my  entent ; 

For  I  com  not  hyther  for  mony  nor  for  rent, 

I  com  not  hyther  for  meat  nor  for  meale, 

But  I  com  hyther  for  your  Soules  heale,  &c. 

After  a  long  Preamble,  he  addresses  himself  to 
Preach,  when  the  Pardoner  enters  with  these 

God  and  St.  Leonarde  send  ye  all  his  grace 
As  many  as  ben  assembled  in  this  place,  &c. 

And  makes  a  long  Speech,  shewing  his  Bulls  and  his 
Reliques,  in  order  to  sell  his  Pardons  for  the  raising 
some  Money  towards  the  rebuilding, 

Of  the  holy  Chappell  of  sweet  saynt  Leonarde, 
Which  late  by  fyre  was  destroyed  and  marde. 

Both  these  speaking  together,  with  continual  inter- 
ruption, at  last  they  fall  together  by  the  Ears.  Here 
the  Curate  enters  (for  you  must  know  the  Scene  lies 
in  the  Church) 

Hold  your  hands ;  a  vengeance  on  ye  both  two 
That  euer  ye  came  hyther  to  make  this  ado, 
To  polute  my  Chyrche,  &:c. 

Fri.  Mayster  Parson,  I  marvayll  ye  will  give  Lycence 
To  this  false  knaue  in  this  Audience 
To  publish  his  ragman  roUes  with  lyes. 
I  desyred  hym  ywys  more  than  ones  or  twyse 
To  hold  his  peas  tyll  that  I  had  done, 
But  he  would  here  no  more  than  the  man  in  the  mone. 

Pari.  Why  sholde  I  sufifre  the,  more  than  thou  me  ? 
Mayster  parson  gaue  me  lycence  before  the. 
And  I  wolde  thou  knowest  it  I  have  relykes  here, 
Other  maner  stuffe  than  thou  dost  bere  : 

OF    THE    ENGLISH    STAGE.  xlvii 

I  wyll  edefy  more  with  the  syght  of  it, 

Than  will  all  thy  pratynge  of  holy  wryt ; 

For  that  except  that  the  precher  himselfe  lyve  well, 

His  predycacyon  wyll  helpe  never  a  dell,  &c. 

Pars.  No  more  of  this  wranglyng  in  my  Chyrch  : 
I  shrewe  your  hertys  bothe  for  this  lurche. 
Is  there  any  blood  shed  here  between  these  knaues  ? 
Thanked  be  god  they  had  no  stauys, 
Nor  egotoles,  for  then  it  had  ben  wronge. 
Well,  ye  shall  synge  another  songe. 

Here  he  calls  his  Neighbour /^r^/  the  Constable, 
with  design  to  apprehend  'em,  and  set  'em  in  the 
Stocks.  But  the  Frier  and  Pardoner  prove  sturdy, 
and  will  not  be  stockt,  but  fall  upon  the  poor  Parson 
and  Constable,  and  bang  'em  both  so  well-favour'dly, 
that  at  last  they  are  glad  to  let  'em  go  at  liberty :  And 
so  the  Farce  ends  with  a  drawn  Battail.  Such  as  this 
were  the  Plays  of  that  Age,  acted  in  Gentlemens 
Halls  at  Christmas,  or  such  like  festival  times,  by  the 
Servants  of  the  Family,  or  Strowlers  who  went  about 
and  made  it  a  Trade.  It  Is  not  unlikely  *  Till  the 25  Year 
that*  Lords  in  those  days,  and  Persons    f  Q-^'^  f^'^^' 

^  beth,   the  Queen 

of  eminent   Quality,  had    their  several    had    not    any 

,  1  r     Players;    but  in 

Gangs  of  Players,  as  some  have  now  01  ^j^^^  year  12  of 
F idlers,  to  whom  they  orive  Cloaks  and    the  best  of  all 

^  those    who     be- 

Badges.  The  first  Comedy  that  I  have  longed  to  several 
seen  that  looks  like  regular,  is  Gammer  ^gn'&'s7oni\er 
Gurtons   Needle,    writ    I   think  in  the    Servants,  as 

.^^.  „  .  ,   .        T-l  •      •  Grooms   of    the 

reign  01  Kmg  haward  6.     i  his  is  com-    chamber,  stow's 
posed   of   five    Acts,   the  Scenes     un-    Annais,^..^^^^. 
broken,  and  the    unities    of  Time  and   Place  duly 


observed.  It  was  acted  at  Christ  Colledge  in  Cam- 
bridge; there  not  being  as  yet  any  settled  and  publick 

LovEW.  I  observe,  Truman,  from  what  you  have 
said,  that  Plays  in  England  had  a  beginning  much 
like  those  oi  Greece,  the  Monologues  and  the  Pageants 
drawn  from  place  to  place  on  Wheels,  answer  exactly 
to  the  Cart  of  Thespis,  and  the  Improvements  have 
been  by  such  little  steps  and  degrees  as  among  the 
Ancients,  till  at  last,  to  use  the  Words  of  Sir  George 
Buck  (in  his  Third  Uiiiversity  of  England)  Dra- 
matic k  Poesy  is  so  lively  exprest  and  represented  tipon 
the  publick  Stages  and  Theatres  of  this  City,  as  Rome 
in  the  KugQ  [the  highest  pitch)  of  her  Pomp  and  Glory, 
never  sazv  it  better  perform' d,  I  mean  (says  he)  in 
respect  of  the  Action  and  Art,  and  not  of  the  Cost 
and  Sumptiousjiess.  This  he  writ  about  the  Year 
1 63 1.  But  can  you  inform  me  Truman,  when 
publick  Theaters  were  first  erected  for  this  purpose 
in  London  ? 

Trum.  Not  certainly ;  but  I  presume  about  the 
beofinninof  of  Oueen  Elizabeths  Reiorn.  For  Stow  in 
his  Survey  of  London  (which  Book  was  first  printed 
in  the  Year  1598)  says.  Of  late  Years,  in  place  of 
these  Stage-plays  (i.  e.  those  of  Religious  Matters) 
have  been  tised  Comedies,  Tragedies,  Lnteidudes,,  and 
Histories,  both  true  and  feigned ;  for  the  acting 
whereof  certain  publick  Places,  as  the  Theatre,  the 
Curtine,  &c.  have  been  erected.  And  the  continuator 
of  Stows  Annals,  p.  1004,  says.  That  in  Sixty  Years 

OF   THE    ENGLISH   STAGE.  xlix 

before  the  publication  of  that  Book,  (which  was  An. 
Dom.  1629)  no  less  than  17  publick  Stages,  or 
common  Playhouses,  had  been  built  in  and  about 
London.  In  which  number  he  reckons  five  Inns  or 
Common  Osteries,  to  have  been  in  his  time  turned 
into  Play-houses,  one  Cock-pit,  St.  Pazd's  singing 
School,  one  in  the  Biackfriers,  one  in  the  Whitefric7's, 
and  one  in  former  time  at  Newington  Buts ;  and 
adds,  before  the  space  of  60  years  past,  I  never 
knew,  heard,  or  read,  of  any  such  Theaters,  set 
Stages,  or  Playhouses,  as  have  been  purposely  built 
within  Man's  Memory. 

LovEW.  After  all,  I  have  been  told,  that  Stage- 
Plays  are  inconslstant  with  the  Laws  of  this  King- 
dom, and  Players  made  Rogues  by  Statute. 

Trum.  He  that  told  you  so  strain'd  a  point  of 
Truth.  I  never  met  with  any  Law  wholly  to  sup- 
press them  :  Sometimes  indeed  they  have  been  pro- 
hibited for  a  Season ;  as  in  times  of  Letit,  general 
Mourning  or  publick  Calamities,  or  upon  other 
occasions,  when  the  Government  saw  fit.  Thus  by 
Proclamation,  7  of  April,  in  the  first  Year  of  Queen 
Elizabeth,  Plays  and  Interludes  were  forbid  till  All 
hallow-tide  next  following.  Hollinshed,  p.  1 1 84.  Some 
Statutes  have  been  made  for  their  Regulation  or 
Reformation,  not  general  suppression.  By  the  Stat. 
39  Eliz.  c.  4,  (which  was  made/^r  the  suppressing  of 
Rogues,  Vagabonds  and  sturdy  Beggars)  it  is  enacted, 

S.  2,  That  all  persons  that  be,  or  utter  themselves  to  be, 
Proctors,   Procurers,   Patent  gatherers,  or  Collectors  for  Gaols, 



Prisons  or  Hospitals,  or  Fencers,  Barewards,  common  players  of 
Interludes  and  Ministrels,  wandering  abroad,  (other  than  Players 
of  Interludes  belonging  to  any  Baron  of  this  Realm,  or  any  other 
honourable  Personage  of  greater  Degree,  to  be  authoriz'd  to  play 
under  the  Hand  and  Seal  of  Arms  of  such  Baron  or  Personage) 
All  Juglers,  Tinkers,  Pedlers,  and  Petty  chapmen,  wandering 
abroad,  all  wandring  Persons,  &c.  able  in  Body,  using  loytering, 
and  refusing  to  work  for  such  reasonable  Wages  as  is  commonly 
given,  &c.  These  shall  be  ajudged  and  deemed  Rogues,  Vaga- 
bonds and  sturdy  Beggars,  and  punished  as  such. 

LovEW.  But  this  priviledge  of  Authorizing  or 
Licensing,  is  taken  away  by  the  Stat,  i  J  a.  i .  ch.  7,  S.  i , 
and  therefore  all  of  them  (as  Mr.  Collier  sdiys,^.  242) 
are  expresly  brought  under  the  foresaid  Penalty, 
without  distinction. 

Trum.  If  he  means  all  Players,  without  distinc- 
tion, 'tis  a  ereat  Mistake.  For  the  force  of  the 
Queens  Statute  extends  only  to  wandring  Players, 
and  not  to  such  as  are  the  King  or  Queen's  Ser- 
vants, and  establisht  in  settled  Houses  by  Royal 
Authority.  On  such,  the  ill  Character  of  vagrant 
Players  (or  as  they  are  now  called,  Strolers)  can 
cast  no  more  aspersion,  than  the  wandring  Proctors, 
in  the  same  Statute  mentioned,  on  those  of  Doctors- 
Commons.  By  a  Stat,  made  3  Ja.  I.  ch.  21.  It 
was  enacted. 

That  if  any  person  shall  in  any  Stage-play,  Enterlude,  Shew, 
Maygame,  or  Pageant,  jestingly  or  prophanely  speak  or  use  the 
holy  name  of  God,  Christ  Jesus,  the  holy  Ghost,  or  of  the  Trinity, 
he  shall  forfeit  for  every  such  offence,  10/. 

The  Stat,  i  Char.  I.  ch.  i,  enacts. 

That  no  Meetings,  Assemblies,  or  concourse  of  People  shall  be 


out  of  their  own  Parishes,  on  the  Lords  day,  for  any  Sports  or 
Pastimes  whatsoever,  nor  any  Bear-bating,  Bull-bating,  Enter- 
ludes,  Common  Plays,  or  other  unlawful  Exercises  and  Pastimes 
used  by  any  person  or  persons  within  their  own  Parishes. 

These  are  all  the  Statutes  that  I  can  think  of  relatino- 
to  the  Stage  and  Players ;  but  nothing  to  suppress 
them  totally,  till  the  two  Ordinances  of  the  Long 
Parliament,  one  of  the  22  of  October  1647,  the  other 
of  the  II  of  Feb.  1647.  By  which  all  Stage-Plays 
and  Interludes  are  absolutely  forbid ;  the  Stages, 
Seats,  Galleries,  &€.  to  be  pulled  down ;  all  Players 
tho' calling  themselves  the  King  or  Queens  Servants, 
if  convicted  of  acting  within  two  Months  before  such 
Conviction,  to  be  punished  as  Rogues  according  to 
Law;  the  Money  received  by  them  to  go  to  the 
Poor  of  the  Parish  ;  and  every  Spectator  to  Pay  5^-. 
to  the  use  of  the  Poor.  Also  Cock-fighting  was 
prohibited  by  one  of  Olivers  Acts  of  31  Mar.  1654. 
But  I  suppose  no  body  pretends  these  things  to  be 
Laws ;  I  could  say  more  on  this  Subject,  but  I  must 
break  off  here,  and  leave  you,  Lovewit ;  my  Occa- 
sions require  it. 

Love.  Farewel,  Old  Cavalier. 

Trum.  'Tis  properly  said  ;  we  are  almost  all  of 
us,  now,  gone  and  forgotten. 

15  January,  14  Car.  II.  1662. 

A  Copy  of  the  Letters  Patents  then  granted  by- 
King  Charles  II.  under  the  Great  Seal  of 
England,  to  Sir  William  D'avenant,  Knt. 
his  Heirs  and  Assigns,  for  erecting  a  new 
Theatre,  and  establishing  of  a  company  of 
actors  in  any  place  within  London  or  Westmin- 
ster, or  the  Suburbs  of  the  same  :  And  that  no 
other  but  this  company,  and  one  other  com- 
pany, by  virtue  of  a  like  Patent,  to  Thomas 
Killigrew,  Esq.  ;  should  be  permitted  within 
the  said  liberties. 

Charles  the  second,  by  the  Grace  of  God,  king  of 
England,  Scotland,  France,  and  Ireland,  defender  of 
the  faith,  &c.  to  all  to  whom  all  these  presents  shall 
come,  greeting. 

Whereas  our  royal  father  of  glorious   ^^^-^^^  ^^^^^^ 
memory,  by  his  letters  patents  under  his   patents,  14  Cai. 

,        -  ,  ,  I.    ann.     1639, 

great  seal  of  England  bearmg   date  at   to    sir    wiii. 
Westminster  the  26th  day  of  March,  in    D'avenant. 
the  14th  year  of  his  reign,  did  give  and  grant  unto 
Sir  William  D'avenant    (by  the  name  of   William 
D'avenant,  gent.)  his  heirs,  executors,  administrators, 


and  assigns,  full  power,  licence,  and  authority,  That 
he,  they,  and  every  of  them,  by  him  and  themselves, 
and  by  all  and  every  such  person  and  persons  as  he 
or  they  should  depute  or  appoint,  and  his  and  their 
laborers,  servants,  and  workmen,  should  and  might, 
lawfully,  quietly,  and  peaceably,  frame,  erect,  new 
build,  and  set  up,  upon  a  parcel  of  ground,  lying 
near  unto  or  behind  the  Three  Kings  ordinary  in 
Fleet-street,  in  the  parishes  of  St.  Dunstan's  in  the 
West,  London ;  or  in  St.  Bride's,  London  ;  or  in 
either  of  them,  or  in  any  other  ground  in  or  about 
that  place,  or  in  the  whole  street  aforesaid,  then 
allotted  to  him  for  that  use  ;  or  in  any  other  place 
that  was,  or  then  after  should  be  assigned  or  allotted 
out  to  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant  by  Thomas 
Earl  of  Arundel  and  Surry,  then  Earl  Marshal  of 
England,  or  any  other  commissioner  for  building, 
for  the  time  being  in  that  behalf,  a  theatre  or  play- 
house, with  necessary  tiring  and  retiring  rooms,  and 
other  places  convenient,  containing  in  the  whole 
forty  yards  square  at  the  most,  wherein  plays, 
musical  entertainments,  scenes,  or  other  the  like 
presentments  might  be  presented.  And  our  said 
royal  father  did  grant  unto  the  said  Sir  William 
D'avenant,  his  heirs,  executors,  and  administrators 
and  assignes,  that  it  should  and  might  be  lawful  to 
and  for  him  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his 
heirs,  executors,  administrators,  and  assignes,  from 
time  to  time,  to  gather  together,  entertain,  govern, 
privilege,  and  keep,  such  and  so  many  players  and 


persons  to  exercise  actions,  musical  presentments, 
scenes,  dancing,  and  the  like,  as  he  the  said  Sir 
William  D'avenant,  his  heirs,  executors,  administra- 
tors, or  assignes,  should  think  fit  and  approve  for 
the  said  house.  And  such  persons  to  permit  and 
continue,  at  and  during  the  pleasure  of  the  said  Sir 
William  D'avenant,  his  heirs,  executors,  administra- 
tors, or  assignes,  from  time  to  time,  to  act  plays  in 
such  house  so  to  be  by  him  or  them  erected, 
and  exercise  musick,  musical  presentments,  scenes, 
dancing,  or  other  the  like,  at  the  same  or  other 
houses  or  times,  or  after  plays  are  ended,  peaceably 
and  quietly,  without  the  impeachment  or  impedi- 
ment of  any  person  or  persons  whatsoever,  for  the 
honest  recreation  of  such  as  should  desire  to  see  the 
same  ;  and  that  it  should  and  might  be  lawful  to 
and  for  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs, 
executors,  administrators,  and  assigns,  to  take  and 
receive  of  such  as  should  resort  to  see  or  hear  any 
such  plays,  scenes,  and  entertainments  whatsoever, 
such  sum  or  sums  of  money  as  was  or  then  after, 
from  time  to  time,  should  be  accustomed  to  be  given 
or  taken  in  other  play-houses  and  places  for  the  like 
plays,  scenes,  presentments,  and  entertainments  as 
in  and  by  the  said  letters  patents,  relation  being 
thereunto  had,  more  at  large  may  appear. 

And  whereas  we  did,  by  our  letters 

13  Car.  II.  ex- 
patents  under  the  great  seal  of  England,   empiification  of 

bearing  date  the   i6th   day  of  May,  in   iJ!n\,.''""^  ^'''' 

the   13th   year  of  our  reign,  exemplifie 


the  said  recited  letters  patents  granted  by  our  royal 
father,  as  in  and  by  the  same,  relation  being  there- 
unto had,  at  large  may  appear. 

And    whereas    the    said   Sir  William  s>^ 

Surrender       of    -r-.,  i 

both  to  the  king  D  avcnant  hath  surrendered  our  letters 
in  the  court  of  patents  of  exemplification,  and  also  the 

Chancery.  ■•■  '■ 

said  recited  letters  patents  granted  by 
our  royal  father,  into  our  Court  of  Chancery,  to  be 
cancelled  ;  which  surrender  we  have  accepted,  and 
do  accept  by  these  presents. 

Know   ye    that   we    of   our    especial 

New  grant  to  Sir 

wiiHam  D'ave-  grace.  Certain  knowledge,  and  meer 
nant,  his  heirs    j^q^Jq^,  and  upou   the   humblc  petition 

and  assignes.  i  '^ 

of  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  and 
in  consideration  of  the  grood  and  faithful  service 
which  he  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant  hath  done 
unto  us,  and  doth  intend  to  do  for  the  future  ;  and 
in  consideration  of  the  said  surrender,  have  given 
and  granted,  and  by  these  presents,  for  us,  our  heirs 
and  successors,  do  give  and  grant,  unto  the  said  Sir 
William  D'avenant,  his  heirs,  executors,  administra- 
tors, and  assigns,  full  power,  licence,  and  authority, 
that  he,  they,  and  every  one  of  them,  by  him  and 
themselves,  and  by  all  and  every  such  person  and 
persons  as  he  or  they  should  depute  or  appoint,  and 
his  or  their  labourers,  servants,  and  workmen,  shall 

and  may  lawfully,  peaceably,  and  quietly, 

To  erect  a  thea-  i      m  i  i 

tre  in  London  frame,  ercct,  uew  build,  and  set  up,  m 
or  Westmister,    ^       placo  withiu   our  cltics  of  Loudon 

or  the  suburbs.  •'     ^ 

and  Westminster,  or  the  suburbs  thereof, 


where  he  or  they  shall  find  best  accommodation  for 
that  purpose ;  to  be  assigned  and  allotted  out  by  the 
surveyor  of  our  works  ;  one  theatre  or  play-house, 
with  necessary  tiring  and  retiring  rooms,  and  other 
places  convenient,  of  such  extent  and  dimention  as 
the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs  or  assigns 
shall  think  fitting  :  wherein  tragedies,  comedies, 
plays,  operas,  musick,  scenes,  and  all  other  enter- 
tainments of  the  stage  whatsoever,  may  be  shewed 
and  presented. 

And  we  do  hereby,  for  us,  our  heirs  and  successors, 
grant  unto  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs 
and  assigns,  full  power,  licence,  and  authority,  from 
time  to  time,  to  gather  together,  entertain,  govern, 
priviledo^e  and  keep,  such  and  so  many 

^  ^  ^  ,  •'      And    to    enter- 

players  and  persons  to  exercise  and  act   tain  players,  &c. 

tragedies,  comedies,  plays,  operas,  and  |he'"'\j^peach! 
other  performances  of  the  stage,  within   ment   of    any 

,       .,  -  .  ,  person. 

the  house  to  be  built  as  aforesaid,  or 
within  the  house  in  Lincoln's- Inn-Fields,  wherein 
the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant  doth  now  exercise 
the  premises  ;  or  within  any  other  house,  where  he 
or  they  can  best  be  fitted  for  that  purpose,  within 
our  cities  of  London  and  Westminster,  or  the 
suburbs  thereof;  which  said  company  shall  be  the 
servants  of  our  dearly  beloved  brother,  James  Duke 
of  York,  and  shall  consist  of  such  number  as  the 
said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs  or  assigns, 
shall  from  time  to  time  think  meet.  And  such  per- 
sons   to    permit   and    continue    at   and    during   the 


pleasure  of  the  said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs 
or  assigns,  from  time  to  time,  to  act  plays  and  enter- 
tainments of  the  stage,  of  all  sorts,  peaceably  and 
quietly,  without  the  impeachment  or  impediment  of 
any  person  or  persons  whatsoever,  for  the  honest 
recreation  of  such  as  shall  desire  to  see  the  same. 

And  that  it  shall  and  may  be  lawful  to  and  for  the 
said  Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs  and  assigns,  to 
take  and  receive  of  such  our  subjects  as  shall  resort 
to  see  or  hear  any  such  plays,  scenes  and  entertain- 
ments whatsoever,  such  sum  or  sums  of  money,  as 
either  have  accustomably  been  given  and  taken  in 
the  like  kind,  or  as  shall  be  thought  reasonable  by 
him  or  them,  in  regard  of  the  great  expences  of 
scenes,  musick,  and  such  new  decorations,  as  have 
not  been  formerly  used. 

And  further,  for  us,  our  heirs,  and  successors,  we 
do  hereby  give  and  grant  unto  the  said  Sir  William 
D'avenant,  his  heirs  and  assigns,  full  power  to  make 
such  allowances  out  of  that  which  he  shall  so  receive, 
by  the  acting  of  plays  and  entertainments  of  the 
stage,  as  aforesaid,  to  the  actors  and  other  persons 
imployed  in  acting,  representing,  or  in  any  quality 
whatsoever,  about  the  said  theatre,  as  he  or  they 
shall  think  fit ;  and  that  the  said  company  shall  be 
under  the  sole  government  and  authority  of  the  said 
Sir  William  D'avenant,  his  heirs  and  assigns.  And 
all  scandalous  and  mutinous  persons  shall  from  time 
to  time  be  by  him  and  them  ejected  and  disabled 
from  playing  in  the  said  theatre. 


And   for  that  we    are  informed  that 

.  That   no   other 

divers  companies  of  players  have  taken  company  but 
upon  them  to  act  plays  publicly  in  our  0^^^'^  .J^n^jer  mT 
said  cities  of  London  and  Westminster,   Kiiiigrew,     be 

111,  P       .   ,  ,  permitted  to  act 

or  the  suburbs  thereof,  without  any  autho-  within  London 
rity  for    that  purpose  ;     we  do  hereby   ^"^  Westmmster 

•'  ^        ^  "^      or  the  suburbs. 

declare  our  dislike  of  the  same,  and  will 
and  grant  that  only  the  said  company  erected  and 
set  up,  or  to  be  erected  and  set  up  by  the  said  Sir 
William  D'avenant,  his  heirs  and  assigns,  by  virtue 
of  these  presents,  and  one  other  company  erected 
and  set  up,  or  to  be  erected  and  set  up  by  Thomas 
Kiiiigrew,  Esq.,  his  heirs  or  assigns,  and  none  other, 
shall  from  henceforth  act  or  represent  comedies, 
tragedies,  plays,  or  entertainments  of  the  stage, 
within  our  said  cities  of  London  and  Westminster, 
or  the  suburbs  thereof;  which  said  company  to  be 
erected  by  the  said  Thomas  Kiiiigrew,  his  heirs  or 
assigns,  shall  be  subject  to  his  and  their  government 
and  authority,  and  shall  be  stiled  the  Company  of 
Us  and  our  Royal  Consort. 

And  the  better  to  preserve  amity  and  correspon- 
dency betwixt  the  said  companies,  and  that  the  one 
may  not  incroach  upon  the  other  by  any  indirect 
means,  we  will  and  ordain,  That  no  actor 

,  111  '1  -No  actor  to  go 

or  other  person  employed  about  either  from  one  com- 
of  the  said  theatres,  erected  by  the  said   i'^"^    ^"    '^^'-' 


Sir  William  D'avenant  and  Thomas  Kii- 
iigrew, or  either  of  them,  or  deserting  his  company, 
shall  be  received  by  the  governor  or  any  of  the  said 


Other  company,  or  any  other  person  or  persons,  to 
be  employed  in  acting,  or  in  any  matter  relating  to 
the  stage,  without  the  consent  and  approbation  of 
the  governor  of  the  company,  whereof  the  said 
person  so  ejected  or  deserting  was  a  member,  signi- 
fied under  his  hand  and  seal.  And  we  do  by  these 
presents  declare  all  other  company  and  companies, 
saving  the  two  companies  before  mentioned,  to  be 
silenced  and  suppressed. 

And  forasmuch  as  many  plays,  formerly  acted,  do 
contain  several  prophane,  obscene,  and  scurrilous 
passages  ;  and  the  womens  parts  therein  have  been 
acted  by  men  in  the  habits  of  women,  at  which  some 
have  taken  offence  :  for  the  preventing  of  these 
abuses  for  the  future,  we  do  hereby  straitly  charge 
and  command  and  enjoyn,  that  from  henceforth  no 
new  play  shall  be  acted  by  either  of  the  said  com- 
panies, containing  any  passages  offensive  to  piety 
and  good  manners,  nor  any  old  or  revived  play, 
containing  any  such  offensive  passages  as  aforesaid, 
until  the  same  shall  be  corrected   and 

To  correct  plays,  ,    ,  ,  .  , 

&c.  purged,  by  the  said  masters  or  governors 

of  the  said  respective  companies,  from 
all  such  offensive  and  scandalous  passages,  as  afore- 
said. And  we  do  likewise  permit  and  give  leave 
that  all  the  womens  parts  to  be  acted  in  either  of 
the  said  two  companies  for  the  time  to  come,  may 
be  performed  by  women,  so  long  as  these  recrea- 
tions, which,  by  reason  of  the  abuses  aforesaid, 
were  scandalous  and  offensive,  may  by  such  reforma- 



tion  be  esteemed,  not  only  harmless  delights,  but 
useful  and  instructive  representations  of  humane 
life,  to  such  of  our  good  subjects  as  shall  resort  to 
see  the  same. 

And  these  our  letters  patents,  or  the   _, 

■■■     ^  _  These      letters 

inrolment  thereof,  shall  be  in  all  things  patents  to  be 
good  and  effectual  in  the  law,  according  Jj°"  irf^heVw 
to  the  true    intent  and  meaning  of  the   according  to  the 

,  true       meaning 

same,  any  thmg  m  these  presents  con-  of  the  same, 
tained,  or  any  law,  statute,  act,  ordi-  although,  &c. 
nance,  proclamation,  provision,  restriction,  or  any 
other  matter,  cause,  or  thing  whatsoever  to  the  con- 
trary, in  any  wise  notwithstanding;  although  express 
mention  of  the  true  yearly  value,  or  certainty  of  the 
premises,  or  of  any  of  them,  or  of  any  other  gifts 
or  grants  by  us,  or  by  any  of  our  progenitors  or  pre- 
decessors, heretofore  made  to  the  said  Sir  William 
D'avenant  in  these  presents,  is  not  made,  or  any 
other  statute,  act,  ordinance,  provision,  proclama- 
tion, or  restriction  heretofore  had,  made,  enacted, 
ordained,  or  provided,  or  any  other  matter,  cause,  or 
thing  whatsoever  to  the  contrary  thereof,  in  any  wise 
notwithstanding.  In  witness  whereof,  we  have  caused 
these  our  letters  to  be  made  patents.  Witness  our 
self  at  Westminster,  the  fifteenth  day  of  January,  in 
the  fourteenth  year  of  our  reign. 

By  the  King. 


A  N 

O    L   O   G    Y 



O  F 

il^r.CoLLEY  C1BBER5  Comedian^ 


Late  Patentee  of  the  Theatre-Roy aL 

With  an  Hijloricat  View  of  the  Stage  during 
his  O  w  N    Time. 

Written    by    Himself. 

Hoc  ejl 

V'lvere  bis,  vita  pojfe  prior e  frui.  Mart.  lib.  2. 

When  Tears  no  more  of  a5live  Life  retain^ 

'Tis  Youth  renew'' dy  to  laugh  ''em  o'er  again.  Anonym. 

The    Second    Edition. 


Printed  by  J  o  h  n  W  a  t  t  s  for  the  Author: 

And  Sold  by  W.  Lewis  in  Ruffel-Street,  near 

Convent  -  Garden. 


TO    A 

BECAUSE  I  know  It  would  give  you  less  Con- 
cern to  find  your  Name  in  an  impertinent 
Satyr,  than  before  the  daintiest  Dedication  of  a 
modern  Author,  I  conceal  it. 

Let  me  talk  never  so  idly  to  you,  this  way  ;  you  are, 
at  least,  under  no  necessity  of  taking  It  to  yourself : 
Nor  when  I  boast  of  your  favours,  need  you  blush 
to  have  bestow'd  them.     Or  I  may  now  give  you 

^  The  Right  Honourable  Henry  Pelham.  Davies  ("  Life  of 
Garrick,"  ii.  377)  says  that  the  "Apology"  was  dedicated  to 
"  that  wise  and  honest  minister,"  Pelham.  John  Taylor  ("  Records 
of  my  Life,"  i.  263)  writes  :  "  The  name  of  the  person  to  whom 
the  Dedication  to  the  'Apology'  was  addressed  is  not  mentioned, 
but  the  late  Mr.  John  Kemble  assured  me  that  he  had  authority 
for  saying  it  was  Mr.  Pelham,  brother  to  the  Duke  of  Newcastle." 
From  the  internal  evidence  it  seems  quite  clear  that  this  is  so.  In 
the  Verses  to  Gibber  quoted  in  "The  Egotist,"  p.  69,  the  authoress 
writes  : — 

"  Sojiie  praise  a  Patron  and  reveal  him  : 
Von  paint  so  true,  you  canH  conceal  him. 
Their  (^audy  Praise  undue  but  shames  hiju, 
Wliile  your's  hy  Likeness  only  names  him." 



all  the  Attributes  that  raise  a  wise  and  orood-natur'd 
Man  to  Esteem  and  Happiness,  and  not  be  cen- 
sured as  a  Flatterer  by  my  own  or  your  Enemies. 

I  place  my  own  first ;  because  as  they  are  the 

greater  Number,  I  am  afraid  of  not  paying  the 
greater  Respect  to  them.  Yours,  if  such  there  are, 
I  imagine  are  too  well-bred  to  declare  themselves  : 
But  as  there  is  no  Hazard  or  visible  Terror  in  an 
Attack  upon  my  defenceless  Station,  my  Censurers 
have  generally  been  Persons  of  an  intrepid  Sincerity. 
Having  therefore  shut  the  Door  against  them  while 
I  am  thus  privately  addressing  you,  I  have  little  to 
apprehend  from  either  of  them. 

Under  this  Shelter,  then,  I  may  safely  tell  you. 
That  the  greatest  Encouragement  I  have  had  to 
publish  this  Work,  has  risen  from  the  several  Hours 
of  Patience  you  have  lent  me  at  the  Reading  it.  It 
is  true,  I  took  the  Advantage  of  your  Leisure  in  the 
Country,  where  moderate  Matters  serve  for  Amuse- 
ment ;  and  there,  indeed,  how  far  your  Good-nature 
for  an  old  Acquaintance,  or  your  Reluctance  to  put 
the  Vanity  of  an  Author  out  of  countenance,  may 
have  carried  you,  I  cannot  be  sure;  and  yet  Appear- 
ances give  me  stronger  Hopes  :  For  was  not  the 
Complaisance  of  a  whole  Evening's  Attention  as 
much  as  an  Author  of  more  Importance  ought  to 
have  expected  ?  Why  then  was  I  desired  the  next 
Day  to  give  you  a  second  Lecture  ?  Or  why  was  I 
kept  a  third  Day  with  you,  to  tell  you  more  of  the 
same  Story  ?     If  these   Circumstances   have   made 


me  vain,  shall  I  say,  Sir,  you  are  accountable  for 
them  ?  No,  Sir,  I  will  rather  so  far  flatter  myself 
as  to  suppose  it  possible.  That  your  having  been  a 
Lover  of  the  Stage  (and  one  of  those  few  good 
Judges  who  know  the  Use  and  Value  of  it,  under  a 
right  Regulation)  might  incline  you  to  think  so 
copious  an  Account  of  it  a  less  tedious  Amusement, 
than  it  may  naturally  be  to  others  of  different  good 
Sense,  who  may  have  less  Concern  or  Taste  for  it. 
But  be  all  this  as  it  may ;  the  Brat  is  now  born,  and 
rather  than  see  it  starve  upon  the  Bare  Parish  Pro- 
vision, I  chuse  thus  clandestinely  to  drop  it  at  your 
Door,  that  it  may  exercise  One  of  your  Many  Virtues, 
your  Charity,  in  supporting  it. 

If  the  World  were  to  know  into  whose  Hands  I 
have  thrown  it,  their  Regard  to  its  Patron  might 
incline  them  to  treat  it  as  one  of  his  Family  :  But  in 
the  Consciousness  of  what  I  am,  I  chuse  not.  Sir,  to 
say  who  you  arc.  If  your  Equal  in  Rank  were  to 
do  publick  Justice  to  your  Character,  then,  indeed, 
the  Concealment  of  your  Name  might  be  an  un- 
necessary Diffidence:  But  am  I,  Sir,  of  Consequence 

enough,  in  any  Guise,  to  do  Honour  to  Mr. ? 

Were  I  to  set  him  in  the  most  laudable  Lights  that 
Truth  and  good  Sense  could  give  him,  or  his  own 
Likeness  would  require,  my  officious  Mite  would 
be  lost  In  that  oreneral  Esteem  and  Recrard  which 
People  of  the  first  Consequence,  even  of  different 
Parties,  have  a  Pleasure  in  paying  him.  Enco- 
miums to  Superiors  from  Authors  of  lower  Life,  as 


they  are  naturally  liable  to  Suspicion,  can  add  very 
little  Lustre  to  what  before  was  visible  to  the  publick 
Eye  :  Such  Offerings  (to  use  the  Stile  they  are 
generally  dressed  in)  like  Pagan  Incense,  evaporate 
on  the  Altar,  and  rather  gratify  the  Priest  than  the 

But  you,  Sir,  are  to  be  approached  in  Terms 
within  the  Reach  of  common  Sense  :  The  honest 
Oblation  of  a  chearful  Heart  is  as  much  as  you 
desire  or  I  am  able  to  bring  you  :  A  Heart  that  has 
just  Sense  enough  to  mix  Respect  with  Intimacy, 
and  is  never  more  delighted  than  when  your  rural 
Hours  of  Leisure  admit  me,  with  all  my  laughing 
Spirits,  to  be  my  idle  self,  and  in  the  whole  Day's 
Possession  of  you  !  Then,  indeed,  I  have  Reason 
to  be  vain ;  I  am,  then,  distinguish'd  by  a  Pleasure 
too  great  to  be  conceal'd,  and  could  almost  pity  the 
Man  of  graver  Merit  that  dares  not  receive  it  with 
the  same  unguarded  Transport !  This  Nakedness  of 
Temper  the  World  may  place  in  what  Rank  of 
Folly  or  Weakness  they  please  ;  but  'till  Wisdom 
can  give  me  something  that  will  make  me  more 
heartily  happy,  I  am  content  to  be  gaz'd  at  as  I 
am,  without  lessening  my  Respect  for  those  whose 
Passions  may  be  more  soberly  covered. 

Yet,  Sir,  will  I  not  deceive  you ;  'tis  not  the 
Lustre  of  your  publick  Merit,  the  Affluence  of  your 
P^ortune,  your  high  Figure  in  Life,  nor  those  honour- 
able Distinctions,  which  you  had  rather  deserve  than 
be  told  of,  that  have  so  many  Years  made  my  plain 


Heart  hang  after  you  :  These  are  but  incidental 
Ornaments,  that,  'tis  true,  may  be  of  Service  to  you 
in  the  World's  Opinion  ;  and  though,  as  one  among 
the  Crowd,  I  may  rejoice  that  Providence  has  so 
deservedly  bestow'd  them ;  yet  my  particular  Attach- 
ment has  risen  from  a  meer  natural  and  more 
engaging  Charm,  The  Agreeable  Companion  !  Nor 
is  my  Vanity  half  so  much  gratified  in  the  Honoitr, 
as  my  Sense  is  in  the  Delight  of  your  Society ! 
When  I  see  you  lay  aside  the  Advantages  of  Supe- 
riority, and  by  your  own  Chearfulness  of  Spirits 
call  out  all  that  Nature  has  given  me  to  meet  them  ; 
then  'tis  I  taste  you !  then  Life  runs  high !  I  desire  ! 
I  possess  you  ! 

Yet,  Sir,  in  this  distinguish'd  Happiness  I  give 
not  up  my  farther  Share  of  that  Pleasure,  or  of  that 
Right  I  have  to  look  upon  you  with  the  publick 
Eye,  and  to  join  in  the  general  Regard  so  unani- 
mously pay'd  to  that  uncommon  Virtue,  your  Inte- 
grity I  This,  Sir,  the  World  allows  so  conspicuous 
a  Part  of  your  Character,  that,  however  invidious 
the  Merit,  neither  the  rude  License  of  Detraction, 
nor  the  Prejudice  of  Party,  has  ever  once  thrown 
on  it  the  least  Impeachment  or  Reproach.  This  is 
that  commanding  Power  that,  in  publick  Speaking, 
makes  you  heard  with  such  Attention  !  This  it  is 
that  discourages  and  keeps  silent  the  Insinuations 
of  Prejudice  and  Suspicion ;  and  almost  renders 
your  Eloquence  an  unnecessary  Aid  to  your  Asser- 
tions:  Even  your  Opponents,  conscious  of  your  Inte- 


grity,  hear  you  rather  as  a  Witness  than  an  Orator — 
But  this,  Sir,  is  drawing  you  too  near  the  Light, 
Integrity  is  too  particular  a  Virtue  to  be  cover'd 
with  a  general  Application.  Let  me  therefore  only 
talk  to  you,  as  at  TtLsadum  (for  so  I  will  call  that 
sweet  Retreat,  which  your  own  Hands  have  rais'd) 
where  like  the  fam'd  Orator  of  old,  when  publick 
Cares  permit,  you  pass  so  many  rational,  unbending 
Hours  :  There  !  and  at  such  Times,  to  have  been 
admitted,  still  plays  in  my  Memory  more  like  a 
fictitious  than  a  real  Enjoyment !  How  many 
golden  Evenings,  in  that  Theatrical  Paradise  of 
water'd  Lawns  and  hanging  Groves,  have  I  walk'd 
and  prated  down  the  Sun  in  social  Happiness ! 
Whether  the  Retreat  of  Cicero,  in  Cost,  Magni- 
ficence, or  curious  Luxury  of  Antiquities,  might 
not  out-blaze  the  simplex  Mwtditiis,  the  modest 
Ornaments  of  your  Villa,  is  not  within  my  readino- 
to  determine  :  But  that  the  united  Power  of  Nature, 
Art,  or  Elegance  of  Taste,  could  have  thrown  so 
many  varied  Objects  into  a  more  delightful  Har- 
mony, is  beyond  my  Conception. 

When  I  consider  you  in  this  View,  and  as  the 
Gentleman  of  Eminence  surrounded  with  the  greneral 
Benevolence  of  Mankind  ;  I  rejoice,  Sir,  for  you 
and  for  myself ;  to  see  Yoil  in  this  particular  Lio-ht 
of  Merit,  and  myself  sometimes  admitted  to  my 
more  than  equal  Share  of  you. 

If  this  Apology  for  my  past  Life  discourages  you 
not  from  holding  me  in  your  usual   Favour,  let  me 



quit  this  greater  Stage,  the  World,  whenever  I 
may,  I  shall  think  This  the  best-acted  Part  of  any 
I  have  undertaken,  since  you  first  condescended  to 
laugh  with, 

Your  most  obedient, 
most  obliged,  and 

most  humble  Serva7it, 

Novemb.  6. 



The  Introduction.  The  Author's  Birth.  Various  Fortune  at  School. 
Not  lik'd  by  those  he  lov'd  there.  Why.  A  Digressioti  upon 
Raillery.  The  Use  and  Abuse  of  it.  The  Comforts  of  Folly. 
Vanity  of  Greatness.     Laughing^  fio  bad  Philosophy. 

YOU  know,  Sir,  I  have  often  told  you  that  one 
time  or  other  I  should  give  the  Publick  some 
Memoirs  of  my  own  Life ;  at  which  you  have  never 
fail'd  to  laugh,  like  a  Friend,  without  saying  a  word  to 

*  Gibber,    in    Chapter   ix.,    mentions   that    he   is   writing   his 
Apology  at  Bath,  and  Fielding,  in  the  mock  trial  of  "  Col.  Apol." 

THE    LIFE    OF 

dissuade  me  from  it ;  concluding,  I  suppose,  that  such 
a  wild  Thought  could  not  possibly  require  a  serious 
Answer.  But  you  see  I  was  in  earnest.  And  now 
you  will  say  the  World  will  find  me,  under  my  own 
Hand,  a  weaker  Man  than  perhaps  I  may  have  pass'd 
for,  even  among  my  Enemies. — With  all  my  Heart ! 
my  Enemies  will  then  read  me  with  Pleasure,  and 
you,  perhaps,  with  Envy,  when  you  find  that  Follies, 
without  the  Reproach  of  Guilt  upon  them,  are  not 
inconsistent  with  Happiness. — But  why  make  my 
Follies  publick  ?  Why  not  ?  I  have  pass'd  my  Time 
very  pleasantly  with  them,  and  I  don't  recollect  that 
they  have  ever  been  hurtful  to  any  other  Man  living. 
Even  admitting  they  were  injudiciously  chosen, 
would  it  not  be  Vanity  in  me  to  take  Shame  to  myself 
for  not  being  found  a  Wise  Man  ?  Really,  Sir,  my 
Appetites  were  in  too  much  haste  to  be  happy,  to 
throw  away  my  Time  in  pursuit  of  a  Name  I  was 
sure  I  could  never  arrive  at. 

Now  the  Follies  I  frankly  confess  I  look  upon  as 
in  some  measure  discharged  ;  while  those  I  conceal 
are  still  keeping  the  Account  open  between  me  and 

given  in  "The  Champion"  of  17th  May,  1740,  indicts  the  Pri- 
soner "  for  that  you,  not  having  the  Fear  of  Grammar  before  your 
Eyes,  on  the  of  at  a  certain  Place,  called  the 

Bath^  in  the  County  of  Somerset,  in  Knights-Bridge,  in  the  County 
of  Middlesex,  in  and  upon  the  English  Language  an  Assault  did 
make,  and  then  and  there,  with  a  certain  Weapon  called  a  Goose- 
quill,  value  one  Farthing,  which  you  in  your  left  Hand  then  held, 
several  very  broad  Wounds  but  of  no  Depth  at  all,  on  the  said 
English  Language  did  make,  and  so  you  the  said  Col.  Apol.  the 
said  English  Language  did  murder." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  3 

my  Conscience.  To  me  the  Fatigue  of  being  upon 
a  continual  Guard  to  hide  them  is  more  than  the  Re- 
putation of  being  without  them  can  repay.  If  this  be 
Weakness,  defendit  jzumerus,  I  have  such  comfortable 
Numbers  on  my  side,  that  were  all  Men  to  blush  that 
are  not  Wise,  I  am  afraid,  in  Ten,  Nine  Parts  of  the 
World  ought  to  be  out  of  Countenance  :^  But  since 
that  sort  of  Modesty  is  what  they  don't  care  to  come 
into,  why  should  I  be  afraid  of  being  star'd  at  for  not 
being  particular  ?  Or  if  the  Particularity  lies  in 
owning  my  Weakness,  will  my  wisest  Reader  be  so 
inhuman  as  not  to  pardon  it }  But  if  there  should 
be  such  a  one,  let  me  at  least  beg  him  to  shew  me 
that  strange  Man  who  is  perfect !  Is  any  one  more 
unhappy,  more  ridiculous,  than  he  who  is  always 
labouring  to  be  thought  so,  or  that  is  impatient  when 
he  is  not  thought  so  ?  Having  brought  myself  to  be 
easy  under  whatever  the  World  may  say  of  my 
Undertaking,  you  may  still  ask  me  why  I  give 
myself  all  this  trouble  ?  Is  it  for  Fame,  or  Profit  to 
myself,^  or  Use  or  Delight  to  others  ?     For  all  these 

^  This  seems  to  be  a  favourite  argument  of  Gibber.  In  his 
"Letter"  to  Pope,  1742,  he  answers  Pope's  line,  "And  has  not 
CoUey  still  his  Lord  and  Whore  ?  "  at  great  length,  one  of  his  argu- 
ments being  that  the  latter  accusation,  "  without  some  particular 
Circumstances  to  aggravate  the  Vice,  is  the  flattest  Piece  of  Satyr 
that  ever  fell  from  the  formidable  Pen  of  Mr.  Fope:  because 
{defendit  nmnerus)  take  the  first  ten  thousand  Men  you  meet,  and 
I  believe,  you  would  be  no  Loser,  if  you  betted  ten  to  one  that 
every  single  Sinner  of  them,  one  with  another,  had  been  guilty  of 
the  same  Frailty." — p.  46. 

'^  Gibber's  '•  Apology  "  must  have  been  a  very  profitable  book. 



4  THE    LIFE    OF 

Considerations  I  have  neither  Fondness  nor  Indif- 
ference :  If  I  obtain  none  of  them,  the  Amusement, 
at  worst,  will  be  a  Reward  that  must  constantly  go 
along  with  the  Labour.  But  behind  all  this  there  is 
something  inwardly  inciting,  which  I  cannot  express 
in  few  Words  ;  I  must  therefore  a  little  make  bold 
with  your  Patience. 

A  Man  who  has  pass'd  above  Forty  Years  of  his 
Life  upon  a  Theatre,  where  he  has  never  appear'd 
to  be  Himself,  may  have  naturally  excited  the 
Curiosity  of  his  Spectators  to  know  what  he  really 
was  when  in  no  body's  Shape  but  his  own  ;  and 
whether  he,  who  by  his  Profession  had  so  long  been 
ridiculing  his  Benefactors,  might  not,  when  the  Coat 

It  was  published  in  one  volume  quarto  in  1740,  and  in  the  same 
year  the  second  edition,  one  volume  octavo,  was  issued.  A  third 
edition  appeared  in  1750,  also  in  one  volume  octavo,  Davies 
("Dramatic  Miscellanies,"  iii.  506)  says:  "Gibber  must  have 
raised  considerable  contributions  on  the  public  by  his  works.  To 
say  nothing  of  the  sums  accumulated  by  dedications,  benefits,  and 
the  sale  of  his  plays  singly,  his  dramatic  works,  in  quarto,  by  sub- 
scription, pubHshed  1721,  produced  him  a  considerable  sum  of 
money.  It  is  computed  that  he  gained,  by  the  excellent  Apology 
for  his  Life,  no  less  than  the  sum  of  ;;^i,5oo."  "The  Laureat" 
(1740)  is  perhaps  Davies's  authority  for  his  computation.  '■'•In- 
genious indeed,  who  from  such  a  Pile  of  indigested  incoherent 
Ideas  huddled  together  by  the  Misnomer  of  a  History,  could  raise 
a  Contribution  on  the  Town  (if  Fame  says  true)  of  Fifteen  hun- 
dred Pounds." — "  Laureat,"  p.  96. 

Gibber  no  doubt  kept  the  copyright  of  the  first  and  second 
editions  in  his  own  hands.  In  1750  he  sold  his  copyright  to 
Robert  Dodsley  for  the  sum  of  fifty  guineas.  The  original  assign- 
ment, which  bears  the  date  "March  y'^  24'*',  1749/50,"  is  in  the 
collection  of  Mr.  Julian  Marshall. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  5 

of  his  Profession  was  off,  deserve  to  be  laugh'd  at 
himself;  or  from  his  being  often  seen  in  the  most 
flaerant  and  immoral  Characters,  whether  he  micrht 
not  see  as  ereat  a  Roofue  when  he  look'd  into  the 
Glass  himself  as  when  he  held  it  to  others. 

It  was  doubtless  from  a  Supposition  that  this  sort 
of  Curiosity  wou'd  compensate  their  Labours  that  so 
many  hasty  Writers  have  been  encourag'd  to  publish 
the  Lives  of  the  late  Mrs.  Oldfield,  Mr.  Wilks,  and 
Mr.  Booth,  in  less  time  after  their  Deaths  than  one 
could  suppose  it  cost  to  transcribe  them.^ 

Now,  Sir,  when  my  Time  comes,  lest  they  shou'd 
think  it  worth  while  to  handle  my  Memory  with  the 
same  Freedom,  I  am  willing  to  prevent  its  being  so 
odly  besmear'd  (or  at  best  but  flady  white-wash'd) 
by  taking  upon  me  to  give  the  Publick  This,  as  true 
a  Picture  of  myself  as  natural  Vanity  will  permit  me 
to  draw  :  For  to  promise  you  that  I  shall  never  be 
vain,  were  a  Promise  that,  like  a  Looking-glass  too 
large,  might  break  itself  in  the  making  :  Nor  am  I 
sure  I  ought  wholly  to  avoid  that  Imputation,  be- 
cause if  Vanity  be  one  of  my  natural  Features,  the 

'  Of  Mrs.  Oldfield  there  was  a  volume  of  "  Authentick  Me- 
moirs" published  in  1730,  the  year  she  died;  and  in  1731 
appeared  Egerton's  "  Faithful  Memoirs,"  and  "  The  Lover's  Mis- 
cellany," in  which  latter  are  memoirs  of  Mrs.  Oldfield's  '*  Life  and 
Amours."  Three  memoirs  of  Wilks  immediately  followed  his 
death,  the  third  of  which  was  written  by  Curll,  who  denounces  the 
other  two  as  frauds.  Benjamin  Victor  wrote  a  memoir  of  Booth 
which  was  published  in  the  year  of  his  death,  and  there  was  one 
unauthorized  memoir  issued  in  the  same  year.  Bellchambers 
instances  the  Life  of  Congreve  as  another  imposition. 

THE    LIFE    OF 

Portrait  wou'd  not  be  like  me  without  it.  In  a  Word, 
I  may  palliate  and  soften  as  much  as  I  please  ;  but 
upon  an  honest  Examination  of  my  Heart,  I  am 
afraid  the  same  Vanity  which  makes  even  homely 
People  employ  Painters  to  preserve  a  flattering 
Record  of  their  Persons,  has  seduced  me  to  print  off 
this  CJiiaro  Oscuro  of  my  Mind. 

And  when  I  have  done  it,  you  may  reasonably  ask 
me  of  what  Importance  can  the  History  of  my  pri- 
vate Life  be  to  the  Publick  ?  To  this,  indeed,  I  can 
only  make  you  a  ludicrous  Answer,  which  is,  That 
the  Publick  very  well  knows  my  Life  has  not  been  a 
private  one  ;  that  I  have  been  employ'd  in  their  Ser- 
vice ever  since  many  of  their  Grandfathers  were  young 
Men  ;  And  tho'  I  have  voluntarily  laid  down  my  Post, 
they  have  a  sort  of  Right  to  enquire  into  my  Con- 
duct (for  which  they  have  so  well  paid  me)  and  to 
call  for  the  Account  of  it  during  my  Share  of  Admi- 
nistration in  the  State  of  the  Theatre.  This  Work, 
therefore,  which  I  hope  they  will  not  expect  a  Man 
of  hasty  Head  shou'd  confine  to  any  regular  Method  : 
(For  I  shall  make  no  scruple  of  leaving  my  History 
when  I  think  a  Digression  may  make  it  lighter  for 
my  Reader's  Digestion.)  This  Work,  I  say,  shall 
not  only  contain  the  various  Impressions  of  my 
Mind,  (as  in  Louis  the  Fourteenth  his  Cabinet  you 
have  seen  the  growing  Medals  of  his  Person  from 
Infancy  to  Old  Age,)  but  shall  likewise  include  with 
them  the  Theatrical  History  of  my  Own  Time,  from 
my  first  Appearance  on  the  Stage  to  my  last  Exit} 

^  From  this  expression  it  appears  that    Gibber   did  not  con- 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  7 

If  then  what  I  shall  advance  on  that  Head  may 
any  ways  contribute  to  the  Prosperity  or  Improve- 
ment of  the  Stage  in  Being,  the  Publick  must  of  con- 
sequence have  a  Share  in  its  Utility. 

This,  Sir,  is  the  best  Apology  I  can  make  for  being 
my  own  Biographer.  Give  me  leave  therefore  to 
open  the  first  Scene  of  my  Life  from  the  very  Day 
I  came  into  it ;  and  tho'  (considering  my  Profession) 
I  have  no  reason  to  be  asham'd  of  my  Original ;  yet 
I  am  afraid  a  plain  dry  Account  of  it  will  scarce  ad- 
mit of  a  better  Excuse  than  what  my  brother  Bays 
makes  for  Prince  Prettyman  in  the  Rehearsal,  viz.  / 
only  do  it  for  fear  I  should  be  thought  to  be  no  bodys 
Son  at  all ;  ^  for  if  I  have  led  a  worthless  Life,  the 
Weight  of  my  Pedigree  will  not  add  an  Ounce  to  my 
intrinsic  Value.  But  be  the  Inference  what  it  will, 
the  simple  Truth  is  this. 

I  was  born  in  London,  on  the  6M  oi November  id"]  \f 
in    Southampton-Street,    facing  Southampton-House.^ 

template  again  returning  to  the  stage.  He  did,  however,  make  a 
few  final  appearances,  his  last  being  to  support  his  own  adaptation 
of  Shakespeare's  "King  John,"  which  he  called  "Papal  Tyranny 
in  the  Reign  of  King  John,"  and  which  was  produced  at  Covent 
Garden  on  15th  February,  1745. 

'  "  The  Rehearsal,"  act  iii.  sc.  4. 

2  The    christening  of  Colley  Gibber  is  recorded  in  the  Bap- 
tismal Register  of  the  Ghurch   of  St.  Giles-in-the-Fields.      The 
entry  reads  : — 
"  November  1 67 1  Ghristnings 

20.     Golly  Sonne  of  Gains  Gabriell  Sibber  and  Jane  ux" 

^  Mr.  Laurence  Hutton,  in  his  "  Literary  Landmarks  of  Lon- 
don," page  52,  says  :  "Southampton  House,  afterwards  Bedford 
House,  taken  down  in  the  beginning  of  the  present  century,  occu- 
pied the  north  side  of  Bloomsbury  Square.     Evelyn  speaks  of  it 

Q  THE    LIFE    OF 

My  Father,  Cams  Gabriel  Cibber}  was  a  Native 
of  Holstciji,  who  came  into  England  some  time 
before  the  Restoration  of  King  Charles  II.  to  follow 
his  Profession,  which  was  that  of  a  Statuary,  &c. 
The  Basso  Relievo  on  the  Pedestal  of  the  Great 
Column  in  the  City,  and  the  two  Figures  of  the 
Liuiaticks,  the  Raving  and  the  Melancholy,  over  the 
Gates  oi  Bethlehem-Hospital,"  are  no  ill  Monuments 
of  his  Fame  as  an  artist.  My  Mother  was  the 
Daughter  of  William  Colley,  Esq ;  of  a  very  ancient 
Family  of  Glaiston  in  Rutlandshire,  where  she  was 
born.  My  Mother's  Brother,  Edward  Colley,  Esq  ; 
(who  gave  me  my  Christian  Name)  being  the  last 
Heir  Male  of  it,  the  Family  is  now  extinct.  I  shall 
only  add,  that  in  Wright's  W\s,\.oxy  oi  Rutlandshire, 
publish'd  in  1684,  the  Colley  s  are  recorded  as  Sheriffs 

in  his  Diary,  October,  1664,  as  in  course  of  construction.  Another 
and  an  earlier  Southampton  House  in  Holborn,  '  a  little  above 
Holborn  Bars,'  was  removed  some  twenty  years  before  Gibber's 
birth.  He  was,  therefore,  probably  born  at  the  upper  or  north 
end  of  Southampton  Street,  facing  Bloomsbury  Square,  where  now 
are  comparatively  modem  buildings,  and  not  in  Southampton 
Street,  Strand,  as  is  generally  supposed." 

^  Caius  Gabriel  Gibber,  born  at  Flensborg  in  Holstein  in  1630 ; 
married,  as  his  second  wife,  Jane  Golley,  on  24th  November,  1670  ; 
died  in  1700.  He  was,  as  Golley  Gibber  states,  a  sculptor  of 
some  note. 

*         "  Where  o'er  the  gates,  by  his  fam'd  father's  hand, 
Great  Gibber's  brazen,  brainless  brothers  stand." 

(Final  edition  of  "  The  Dunciad,"  i.  verses  31-2.) 
Bellchambcrs  notes  that  these  figures  were  removed  to  the  New 
Hospital  in  St.  George's  Fields.     They  are  now  in  South  Ken- 
sington Museum. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  9 

and  Members  of  Parliament  from  the  Reign  of 
Hemy  VII.  to  the  latter  End  of  Charles  I.,  in  whose 
Cause  chiefly  Sir  Antony  Colley,  my  Mother's  Grand- 
father, sunk  his  Estate  from  Three  Thousand  to 
about  Three  ¥{uTi.6.r:Qdi per  Anmuii} 

In  the  Year  1682,  at  little  more  than  Ten  Years 
of  Age,  I  was  sent  to  the  Free-School  of  Grantham 
in  Lincolnshire,  where  I  staid  till  I  got  through  it, 
from  the  lowest  Form  to  the  uppermost.  And  such 
Learning  as  that  School  could  give  me  is  the  most 
I  pretend  to  (which,  tho'  I  have  not  utterly  forgot,  I 
cannot  say  I  have  much  improv'd  by  Study)  but 
even  there  I  remember  I  was  the  same  inconsistent 
Creature  I  have  been  ever  since !  always  in  full 
Spirits,  in  some  small  Capacity  to  do  right,  but  in  a 
more  frequent  Alacrity  to  do  wrong;  and  conse- 
quently often  under  a  worse  Character  than  I  wholly 
deserv'd  :  A  giddy  Negligence  always  possess'd  me, 
and  so  much,  that  I  remember  I  was  once  whipp'd 
for  my  Theme,  tho'  my  Master  told  me,  at  the  same 

^  "It  was  found  by  office  taken  in  the  13th  year  of  H.  8.  that 
John  Colly  deceased,  held  the  Mannourand  Advowson  of  Glaiston 
of  Edward  Duke  of  Buckingham,  as  of  his  Castle  of  Okeham  by 
knights  service." — Wright's  "  History  and  Antiquities  of  the 
County  of  Rutland,"  p.  64. 

"In  the  26.  Cat:  i.  (1640)  Sir  Anthony  Colly  Knight,  then 
Lord  of  this  Mannor,  joyned  with  his  Son  and  Heir  apparent, 
William  Colly  Esquire,  in  a  Conveyance  of  divers  parcels  of  Land 
in  Glaiston,  together  with  the  Advowson  of  the  Church  there,  to 
Edivard  Andrnvs  of  Bisbroke  in  this  County,  Esquire  :  Which 
Advowson  is  since  conveyed  over  to  Peterhouse  in  Cambridge," 
— Ibid.  p.  65. 

lO  THE    LIFE    OF 

time,  what  was  good  of  it  was  better  than  any  Boy's 
in  the  Form.  And  (whatever  Shame  it  may  be  to 
own  it)  I  have  observ'd  the  same  odd  Fate  has  fre- 
quently attended  the  course  of  my  later  Conduct  in 
Life.  The  unskilful  openness,  or  in  plain  Terms, 
the  Indiscretion  I  have  always  acted  with  from  my 
Youth,  has  drawn  more  ill-will  towards  me,  than 
Men  of  worse  Morals  and  more  Wit  might  have 
met  with.  My  Ignorance  and  want  of  Jealousy  of 
Mankind  has  been  so  strong,  that  it  is  with  Reluc- 
tance I  even  yet  believe  any  Person  I  am  acquain- 
ted with  can  be  capable  of  Envy,  Malice,  or  Ingrati- 
tude :  ^  And  to  shew  you  what  a  Mortification  it 
was  to  me,  in  my  very  boyish  Days,  to  find  myself 
mistaken,  give  me  leave  to  tell  you  a  School  Story. 

A  great  Boy,  near  the  Head  taller  than  myself,  in 
some  wrangle  at  Play  had  insulted  me ;  upon  which 
I  was  fool-hardy  enough  to  give  him  a  Box  on  the 
Ear ;  the  Blow  was  soon  return'd  with  another  that 
brought  me  under  him  and  at  his  Mercy.  Another 
Lad,  whom  I  really  lov'd  and  thought  a  good-natur'd 
one,  cry'd  out  with  some  warmth  to  my  Antagonist 
(while  I  was  down)  Beat  him,  beat  him  soundly  ! 
This   so  amaz'd  me  that    I    lost  all  my   Spirits  to 

^  Fielding  ("  Joseph  Andrews,"  chap,  iii.),  writing  of  Parson 
Adams,  says  :  "  Simplicity  was  his  characteristic  :  he  did,  no  more 
than  Mr.  Colley  Gibber,  apprehend  any  such  passions  as  malice 
and  envy  to  exist  in  mankind  ;  which  was  indeed  less  remarkable 
in  a  country  parson,  than  in  a  gentleman  who  has  passed  his  life 
behind  the  scenes — a  place  which  has  been  seldom  thought  the 
school  of  innocence." 


resist,  and  burst  into  Tears !  When  the  Fray  was 
over  I  took  my  Friend  aside,  and  ask'd  him,  How 
he  came  to  be  so  earnestly  against  me  ?  To  which, 
with  some  glouting^  Confusion,  he  reply'd.  Because 
you  are  always  jeering  and  making  a  Jest  of  me  to 
every  Boy  in  the  School.  Many  a  Mischief  have  I 
brought  upon  myself  by  the  same  Folly  in  riper  Life. 
Whatever  Reason  I  had  to  reproach  my  Companion's 
declaring  against  me,  I  had  none  to  wonder  at  it 
while  I  was  so  often  hurting  him :  Thus  I  deserv'd 
his  Enmity  by  my  not  having  Sense  enough  to  know 
I  had  hurt  him  ;  and  he  hated  me  because  he  had 
not  Sense  enough  to  know  that  I  never  intended  to 
hurt  him. 

As  this  is  the  first  remarkable  Error  of  my  Life  I 
can  recollect,  I  cannot  pass  it  by  without  throwing 
out  some  further  Reflections  upon  it ;  whether  flat  or 
spirited,  new  or  common,  false  or  true,  right  or  wrong, 
they  will  be  still  my  own,  and  consequently  like  me ; 
I  will  therefore  boldly  go  on  ;  for  I  am  only  oblig'd 
to  give  you  my  own,  and  not  a  good  Picture,  to  shew 
as  well  the  Weakness  as  the  Strength  of  my  Under- 
standing. It  is  not  on  Avhat  I  write,  but  on  my 
Reader's  Curiosity  I  relie  to  be  read  through  :  At 
worst,  tho'  the  Impartial  may  be  tir'd,  the  Ill-natur'd 
(no  small  number)  I  know  will  see  the  bottom  of  me. 

What  I  observ'd  then,  upon  my  having  unde- 
signedly provok'd  my  School-Friend  into  an  Enemy, 
is  a  common  Case  in  Society ;   Errors  of  this  kind 

'  Glout  is  an  obsolete  word  signifying  "  to  pout,  to  look  sullen.' 

12  THE    LIFE    OF 

often  sour  the  Blood  of  Acquaintance  Into  an  incon- 
ceivable Aversion,  where  it  is  little  suspected.  It  is 
not  enough  to  say  of  your  Raillery  that  you  intended 
no  offence  ;  if  the  Person  you  offer  it  to  has  either  a 
wrong  Head,  or  wants  a  Capacity  to  make  that  dis- 
tinction, it  may  have  the  same  effect  as  the  Intention 
of  the  grossest  Injury :  And  in  reality,  if  you  know 
his  Parts  are  too  slow  to  return  it  in  kind,  it  is  a 
vain  and  idle  Inhumanity,  and  sometimes  draws  the 
Aggressor  into  difficulties  not  easily  got  out  of:  Or 
to  give  the  Case  more  scope,  suppose  your  Friend 
may  have  a  passive  Indulgence  for  your  Mirth,  if 
you  find  him  silent  at  it ;  tho'  you  were  as  intrepid  as 
CcBsar,  there  can  be  no  excuse  for  your  not  leaving 
it  off.  When  you  are  conscious  that  your  Antagonist 
can  give  as  well  as  take,  then  indeed  the  smarter  the 
Hit  the  more  agreeable  the  Party  :  A  Man  of  chear- 
ful  Sense  among  Friends  will  never  be  grave  upon 
an  Attack  of  this  kind,  but  rather  thank  you  that  you 
have  given  him  a  Right  to  be  even  with  you  :  There 
are  few  Men  (tho'  they  may  be  Masters  of  both)  that 
on  such  occasions  had  not  rather  shew  their  Parts 
than  their  Courage,  and  the  Preference  is  just ;  a 
Bull- Dog  may  have  one,  and  only  a  Man  can  have 
the  other.  Thus  it  happens  that  in  the  coarse 
Merriment  of  common  People,  when  the  Jest  begins 
to  swell  into  earnest ;  for  want  of  this  Election  you 
may  observe,  he  that  has  least  wit  generally  gives  the 
first  Blow.  Now,  as  among  the  Better  sort,  a  readi- 
ness of  Wit  is  not  always  a  Sign  of  intrinsick  Merit ; 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 3 

SO  the  want  of  that  readiness  is  no  Reproach  to  a 
Man  of  plain  Sense  and  Civility,  who  therefore 
(methinks)  should  never  have  these  lengths  of  Liberty 
taken  with  him.  Wit  there  becomes  absurd,  if  not 
insolent;  ill-natur'd  I  am  sure  it  is,  which  Imputation 
a  generous  Spirit  will  always  avoid,  for  the  same 
Reason  that  a  Man  of  real  Honour  will  never  send  a 
Challenge  to  a  Cripple.  The  inward  Wounds  that 
are  given  by  the  inconsiderate  Insults  of  Wit  to 
those  that  want  it,  are  as  dangerous  as  those  given 
by  Oppression  to  Inferiors  ;  as  long  in  healing,  and 
perhaps  never  forgiven.  There  is  besides  (and  little 
worse  than  this)  a  mutual  Crossness  in  Raillery  that 
sometimes  is  more  painful  to  the  Hearers  that  are 
not  concern'd  in  it  than  to  the  Persons  engaged.  I 
have  seen  a  couple  of  these  clumsy  Combatants  drub 
one  another  with  as  little  Manners  or  Mercy  as  if 
they  had  two  Flails  in  their  Hands ;  Children  at 
Play  with  Case-knives  could  not  give  you  more 
Apprehension  of  their  doing  one  another  a  Mischief. 
And  yet,  when  the  Contest  has  been  over,  the 
Boobys  have  look'd  round  them  for  Approbation,  and 
upon  being  told  they  were  admirably  well  match'd, 
have  sat  down  (bedawb'd  as  they  were)  contented  at 
making  it  a  drawn  Battle.  After  all  that  I  have  said, 
there  is  no  clearer  way  of  giving  Rules  for  Raillery 
than  by  Example. 

There  are  two  Persons  now  living,  who  tho'  very 
different  in  their  manner,  are,  as  far  as  my  Judgment 
reaches,  complete  Masters  of  it ;  one  of  a  more  polite 

14  THE    LIFE    OF 

and  extensive  Imagination,  the  other  of  a  Knowledge 
more  closely  useful  to  the  Business  of  Life  :  The 
one  gives  you  perpetual  Pleasure,  and  seems  always 
to  be  taking  it ;  the  other  seems  to  take  none  till  his 
Business  is  over,  and  then  gives  you  as  much  as  if 
Pleasure  were  his  only  Business.  The  one  enjoys 
his  Fortune,  the  other  thinks  it  first  necessary  to 
make  it ;  though  that  he  will  enjoy  it  then  I  cannot 
be  positive,  because  when  a  Man  has  once  pick'd  up 
more  than  he  wants,  he  Is  apt  to  think  it  a  Weakness 
to  suppose  he  has  enough.  But  as  I  don't  remember 
ever  to  have  seen  these  Gentlemen  in  the  same 
Company,  you  must  give  me  leave  to  take  them 

The  first  of  them',  then,  has  a  Title,  and  • no 

matter  what ;  I  am  not  to  speak  of  the  great,  but  the 
happy  part  of  his  Character,  and  in  this  one  single 
light ;  not  of  his  being  an  illustrious,  but  a  delightful 

In  Conversation  he  is  seldom  silent  but  when  he 
is  attentive,  nor  ever  speaks  without  exciting  the 
Attention  of  others  ;  and  tho'  no  Man  might  with  less 
Displeasure  to  his  Hearers  engross  the  Talk  of  the 
Company,  he  has  a   Patience  in  his  Vivacity  that 

'  Bellchambers  suggests  that  these  two  persons  were  the  Earl 
of  Chesterfield  and  "  Bubb  Doddington."  As  to  the  former  he  is 
no  doubt  correct,  but  I  cannot  see  a  single  feature  of  resemblance 
between  the  second  portrait  and  Lord  Melcombe.  "  The  Laureat" 
says  (p.  1 8)  that  the  portraits  were  "L — d  C— d  and  Mr.  E — e" 
[probably  Erskine].  Bellchambers  seems  to  have  supposed  that 
"  Bubb  "  was  a  nickname. 


MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  1 5 

chuses  to  divide  it,  and  rather  gives  more  Freedom 
than  he  takes  ;  his  sharpest  RepHes  having  a  mixture 
of  PoHteness  that  few  have  the  command  of;  his 
Expression  is  easy,  short,  and  clear  ;  a  stiff  or  studied 
Word  never  comes  from  him  ;  it  is  in  a  simpHcity  of 
Style  that  he  gives  the  highest  Surprize,  and  his 
Ideas  are  always  adapted  to  the  Capacity  and  Taste 
of  the  Person  he  speaks  to  :  Perhaps  you  will  under- 
stand me  better  if  I  give  you  a  particular  Instance 
of  it.  A  Person  at  the  University,  who  from  being 
a  Man  of  Wit  easily  became  his  Acquaintance  there, 
from  that  Acquaintance  found  no  difficulty  in  being 
made  one  of  his  Chaplains  :  This  Person  afterwards 
leading  a  Life  that  did  no  great  Honour  to  his  Cloth, 
obliged  his  Patron  to  take  some  gentle  notice  of  it ; 
but  as  his  Patron  knew  the  Patient  was  squeamish, 
he  was  induced  to  sweeten  the  Medicine  to  his  Taste, 
and  therefore  with  a  smile  of  good  humour  told  him, 
that  if  to  the  many  Vices  he  had  already,  he  would 
give  himself  the  trouble  to  add  one  more,  he  did  not 
doubt  but  his  Reputation  might  still  be  set  up  again. 
Sir  Crape,  who  could  have  no  Aversion  to  so  pleasant 
a  Dose,  desiring  to  know  what  it  might  be,  was 
answered.  Hypocrisy,  Doctor,  only  a  little  Hypocrisy  ! 
This  plain  Reply  can  need  no  Comment ;  but  ex  pede 
Herculem,  he  is  every  where  proportionable.  I  think 
I  have  heard  him  since  say,  the  Doctor  thought 
Hypocrisy  so  detestable  a  Sin  that  he  dy'd  without 
committing  It.  In  a  word,  this  Gentleman  gives 
Spirit  to  Society  the  Moment  he  comes  into  it,  and 

1 6  THE    LIFE    OF 

whenever  he  leaves  it  they  who  have  Business  have 
then  leisure  to  go  about  it. 

Having  often  had  the  Honour  to  be  my  self  the 
But  of  his  Raillery,  I  must  own  T  have  received 
more  Pleasure  from  his  lively  manner  of  raising  the 
Lauofh  aofainst  me,  than  I  could  have  felt  from  the 
smoothest  flattery  of  a  serious  Civility.  Tho'  Wit 
flows  from  him  with  as  much  ease  as  common  Sense 
from  another,  he  is  so  little  elated  with  the  Advantage 
he  may  have  over  you,  that  whenever  your  good 
Fortune  gives  it  against  him,  he  seems  more  pleas'd 
with  it  on  your  side  than  his  own.  The  only  ad- 
vantage he  makes  of  his  Superiority  of  Rank  is, 
that  by  always  waving  it  himself,  his  inferior  finds  he 
is  under  the  greater  Obligation  not  to  forget  it. 

When  the  Conduct  of  social  Wit  is  under  such 
Regulations,  how  delightful  must  those  Coiwivia, 
those  Meals  of  Conversation  be,  where  such  a  Mem- 
ber presides  ;  who  can  with  so  much  ease  (as  Shake- 
spear  phrases  it)  set  the  Table  in  a  7'oar}  I  am  in  no 
pain  that  these  imperfect  Out-lines  will  be  apply'd 
to  the  Person  I  mean,  because  every  one  who  has 
the  Happiness  to  know  him  must  know  how  much 
more  in  this  particular  Attitude  is  wanting  to  be  like 

The  other  Gentleman,  whose  bare  Interjections  of 

Laughter  have  humour  in  them,  is  so  far  from  having 

a  Title  that  he  has  lost  his  real  name,  which  some 

Years  ago  he  suffer'd  his  Friends  to  railly  him  out 

'  "Set  the  table  on  a  roar." — "  Hamlet,"  act  v.  sc.  i. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  1 7 

of;  in  lieu  of  which  they  have  equipp'd  him  with  one 
they  thought  had  a  better  sound  in  good  Company. 
He  is  the  first  Man  of  so  sociable  a  Spirit  that  I 
ever  knew  capable  of  quitting  the  Allurements  of 
Wit  and  Pleasure  for  a  strong  Application  to  Busi- 
ness ;  in  his  Youth  (for  there  was  a  Time  when  he 
was  young)  he  set  out  in  all  the  hey-day  Expences 
of  a  modish  Man  of  Fortune  ;  but  finding  himself 
over-weighted  with  Appetites,  he  grew  restiff,  kick'd 
up  in  the  middle  of  the  Course,  and  turn'd  his  back 
upon  his  Frolicks  abroad,  to  think  of  improving  his 
Estate  at  home  :  In  order  to  which  he  clapt  Collars 
upon  his  Coach- Horses,  and  that  their  Mettle  might 
not  run  over  other  People,  he  ty'd  a  Plough  to  their 
Tails,  which  tho'  it  might  give  them  a  more  slovenly 
Air,  would  enable  him  to  keep  them  fatter  in  a  foot 
pace,  with  a  whistling  Peasant  beside  them,  than  in 
a  full  trot,  with  a  hot-headed  Coachman  behind  them. 
In  these  unpolite  Amusements  he  has  laugh'd  like  a 
Rake  and  look'd  about  him  like  a  Farmer  for  many 
Years.  As  his  Rank  and  Station  often  find  him  in 
the  best  Company,  his  easy  Humour,  whenever  he  is 
called  to  it,  can  still  make  himself  the  Fiddle  of  it. 

And  tho'  some  say  he  looks  upon  the  Follies  of 
the  World  like  too  severe  a  Philosopher,  yet  he  rather 
chuses  to  laugh  than  to  grieve  at  them  ;  to  pass  his 
time  therefore  more  easily  in  it,  he  often  endeavours 
to  conceal  himself  by  assuming  the  Air  and  Taste 
of  a  Man  in  fashion;  so  that  his  only  Uneasiness 
seems  to  be,  that  he  cannot  quite  prevail   with  his 

1 8  THE   LIFE    OF 

Friends  to  think  him  a  worse  Manager  than  he 
really  is ;  for  they  carry  their  Raillery  to  such  a 
height  that  it  sometimes  rises  to  a  Charge  of  down- 
right Avarice  against  him.  Upon  which  Head  it  is 
no  easy  matter  to  be  more  merry  upon  him  than  he 
will  be  upon  himself.  Thus  while  he  sets  that  In- 
firmity in  a  pleasant  Light,  he  so  disarms  your  Pre- 
judice, that  if  he  has  it  not,  you  can't  find  in  your 
Heart  to  wish  he  were  without  it.  Whenever  he  is 
attack'd  where  he  seems  to  lie  so  open,  if  his  Wit 
happens  not  to  be  ready  for  you,  he  receives  you 
with  an  assenting  Laugh,  till  he  has  gain'd  time 
enough  to  whet  it  sharp  enough  for  a  Reply,  which 
seldom  turns  out  to  his  disadvantage.  If  you  are 
too  strong  for  him  (which  may  possibly  happen  from 
his  being  oblig'd  to  defend  the  weak  side  of  the 
Question)  his  last  Resource  is  to  join  in  the  Laugh 
till  he  has  got  himself  off  by  an  ironical  Applause  of 
your  Superiority. 

If  I  were  capable  of  Envy,  what  I  have  observ'd 
of  this  Gentleman  would  certainly  incline  me  to  it  ; 
for  sure  to  get  through  the  necessary  Cares  of  Life 
with  a  Train  of  Pleasures  at  our  Heels  in  vain  calling 
after  us,  to  give  a  constant  Preference  to  the  Business 
of  the  Day,  and  yet  be  able  to  laugh  while  we  are 
about  it,  to  make  even  Society  the  subservient  Re- 
ward of  it,  is  a  State  of  Happiness  which  the  gravest 
Precepts  of  moral  Wisdom  will  not  easily  teach  us 
to  exceed.  When  I  speak  of  Happiness,  I  go  no 
higher  than  that  which  is  contain'd  in  the  World  we 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 9 

now  tread  upon  ;  and  when  I  speak  of  Laughter,  I 
don't  simply  mean  that  which  every  Oaf  is  capable 
of,  but  that  which  has  its  sensible  Motive  and  proper 
Season,  which  is  not  more  limited  than  recommended 
by  that  indulgent  Philosophy, 

Cunt  ratione  insanire.^ 

When  I  look  into  my  present  Self,  and  afterwards 
cast  my  Eye  round  all  my  Hopes,  I  don't  see  anyone 
Pursuit  of  them  that  should  so  reasonably  rouze  me 
out  of  a  Nod  in  my  Great  Chair,  as  a  call  to  those 
agreeable  Parties  I  have  sometimes  the  Happiness 
to  mix  with,  where  I  always  assert  the  equal  Liberty 
of  leaving  them,  when  my  Spirits  have  done  their 
best  with  them. 

Now,  Sir,  as  I  have  been  making  my  way  for 
above  Forty  Years  through  a  Crowd  of  Cares,  (all 
which,  by  the  Favour  of  Providence,  I  have  honestly 
got  rid  of)  is  it  a  time  of  Day  for  me  to  leave  off 
these  Fooleries,  and  to  set  up  a  new  Character  ? 
Can  it  be  worth  my  while  to  waste  my  Spirits,  to 
bake  my  Blood,  with  serious  Contemplations,  and 
perhaps  impair  my  Health,  in  the  fruitless  Study  of 
advancing  myself  into  the  better  Opinion  of  those 
very — very  few  Wise  Men  that  are  as  old  as  I  am  ? 
No,  the  Part  I  have  acted  in  real  Life  shall  be  all 
of  a  piece, 

Servetur  ad  imum, 

Qzialis  ab  incepio  processerit.         Hor.- 

'  Ter.  Eun.  i.  i,  18.  ^  Ars  Poetica,  126. 

20  THE    LIFE   OF 

I  will  not  go  out  of  my  Character  by  straining  to  be 
wiser  than  I  can  be,  or  by  being  more  affectedly  pen- 
sive than  I  need  be  ;  whatever  I  am,  Men  of  Sense  will 
know  me  to  be,  put  on  what  Disguise  I  will ;  I  can 
no  more  put  off  my  Follies  than  my  Skin  ;  I  have 
often  tiy'd,  but  they  stick  too  close  to  me  ;  nor  am  I 
sure  my  Friends  are  displeased  with  them ;  for,  be- 
sides that  in  this  Light  I  afford  them  frequent  matter 
of  Mirth,  they  may  possibly  be  less  uneasy  at  their 
own  Foibles  when  they  have  so  old  a  Precedent  to 
keep  them  in  Countenance  :  Nay,  there  are  some 
frank  enough  to  confess  they  envy  what  they  laugh 
at ;  and  when  I  have  seen  others,  whose  Rank  and 
Fortune  have  laid  a  sort  of  Restraint  upon  their 
Liberty  of  pleasing  their  Company  by  pleasing  them- 
selves, I  have  said  softly  to  myself, Well,  there 

is  some  Advantage  in  having  neither  Rank  nor 
Fortune !  Not  but  there  are  among  them  a  third 
Sort,  who  have  the  particular  Happiness  of  unbend- 
ing into  the  very  Wantonness  of  Good-humour  with- 
out depreciating  their  Dignity  :  He  that  is  not 
Master  of  that  Freedom,  let  his  Condition  be  never 
so  exalted,  must  still  want  something  to  come  up  to 
the  Happiness  of  his  Inferiors  who  enjoy  it.  If 
Socrates  cou'd  take  pleasure  in  playing  at  Eve7i  or 
Odd  with  his  Children,  or  Agesilaus  divert  himself  in 
riding  the  Flobby-horse  with  them,  am  1  oblig'd  to 
be  as  eminent  as  either  of  them  before  I  am  as 
frolicksome  ?  If  the  Emperor  Adrian,  near  his 
death,  cou'd  play  with  his  very  Soul,  his  Animula^ 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER  2  1 

&c.  and  regret  that  it  cou'd  be  no  longer  companion- 
able ;  if  Greatness  at  the  same  time  was  not  the 
Delight  he  was  so  loth  to  part  with,  sure  then  these 
chearful  Amusements  I  am  contending  for  must 
have  no  inconsiderable  share  in  our  Happiness ;  he 
that  does  not  chuse  to  live  his  own  way,  suffers 
others  to  chuse  for  him.  Give  me  the  Joy  I  always 
took  in  the  End  of  an  old  Song, 

My  Mind,  my  Mind  is  a  Kingdom  to  me  !  ^ 

If  I  can  please  myself  with  my  own  Follies,  have 
not  I  a  plentiful  Provision  for  Life  }  If  the  World 
thinks  me  a  Trifler,  I  don't  desire  to  break  in  upon 
their  Wisdom  ;  let  them  call  me  any  Fool  but  an 
Unchearful  one ;  I  live  as  I  write  ;  while  my  Way 
amuses  me,  it's  as  well  as  I  wish  it ;  when  another 
writes  better,  I  can  like  him  too,  tho'  he  shou'd  not 
like  me.  Not  our  great  Imitator  of  Horace  himself 
can  have  more  Pleasure  in  writing  his  Verses  than 
I  have  in  reading  them,  tho'  I  sometimes  find  myself 
there  (as  Sliakespear  terms  it)  dispraisingly  ^  spoken 
of  :^  If  he  is  a  little  free  with  me,  I  am  generally  in 

'  In  William  Byrd's  collection,  entitled  "  Psalmes,  Sonets,  & 
songs  of  sadnes  and  pietie,"  1588,  4to.,  is  the  song  to  which 
Gibber  probably  refers  : — 

"  My  Minde  to  me  a  Kingdome  is." 

Mr.  Bulien,  in  his  "Lyrics  from  Elizabethan  Song-books"  (p.  78), 
quotes  it. 

^  "  And  so  many  a  time, 

When  I  have  spoke  of  you  dispraisingly, 
Hath  ta'en  your  part." — "  Othello,"  act  iii.  sc.  3. 
'  This  is  Gibber's  first  allusion  to  Pope's  enmity.     It  was  after 

2  2  THE    LIFE    OF 

good  Company,  he  is  as  blunt  with  my  Betters ;  so 
that  even  here  I  might  laugh  in  my  turn.  My 
Superiors,  perhaps,  may  be  mended  by  him  ;  but,  for 
my  part,  I  own  myself  incorrigible  :  I  look  upon  my 
Follies  as  the  best  part  of  my  Fortune,  and  am  more 
concern'd  to  be  a  good  Husband  of  Them,  than  of 
That ;  nor  do  I  believe  I  shall  ever  be  rhim'd  out  of 
them.  And,  if  I  don't  mistake,  I  am  supported  in 
my  way  of  thinking  by  Horace  himself,  who,  in  excuse 
of  a  loose  Writer,  says, 

PrcBtulerim  scriptor  delirus,  inersque  videri, 
Duni  mea  delectent  mala  me,  vel  denigue  fallant, 
Quam  sapere,  et  7Hngi ^ 

which,  to  speak  of  myself  as  a  loose  Philosopher,  I 
have  thus  ventur'd  to  imitate  : 

Me,  while  my  laughing  Follies  can  deceive. 

Blest  i7i  the  dear  Delirium  let  me  live, 

Rather  tha^i  wisely  know  my  Wants  and  grieve. 

We  had  once  a  merry  M  onarch  of  our  own,  who  thought 
chearfulness  so  valuable  a  Blessing,  that  he  would 
have  quitted  one  of  his  Kingdoms  where  he  cou'd  not 
enjoy  it ;  where,  among  many  other  Conditions  they 
had  ty'd  him  to,  his  sober  Subjects  wou'd  not  suffer 
him  to  laugh  on  a  Sunday ;  and  tho'  this  might  not 
be  the  avow'd  Cause  of  his  Elopement,^  I  am  not 

the  publication  of  the  "Apology"  that  Pope's  attacks  became 
more  bitter. 

'  Horace,  Epis.  ii.  2,  126. 

*  Charles  II. 's  flight  from  his  Scottish  Presbyterian  subjects,  at 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  23 

sure,  had  he  had  no  other,  that  this  alone  might  not 
have  serv'd  his  turn ;  at  least,  he  has  my  hearty- 
Approbation  either  way ;  for  had  I  been  under  the 
same  Restriction,  tho'  my  staying  were  to  have  made 
me  his  Successor,  I  shou'd  rather  have  chosen  to 
follow  him. 

How  far  his  Subjects  might  be  in  the  right  is  not 
my  Affair  to  determine  ;  perhaps  they  were  wiser 
than  the  Frogs  in  the  Fable,  and  rather  chose  to  have 
a  Log  than  a  Stork  for  their  King  ;  yet  I  hope  it 
will  be  no  Offence  to  say  that  King  Log  himself 
must  have  made  but  a  very  simple  Figure  in  History. 

The  Man  who  chuses  never  to  laugh,  or  whose 
becalm'd  Passions  know  no  Motion,  seems  to  me 
only  in  the  quiet  State  of  a  green  Tree  ;  he  vegetates, 
'tis  true,  but  shall  we  say  he  lives  ?  Now,  Sir,  for 
Amusement. — Reader,  take  heed  !  for  I  find  a  strong 
impulse  to  talk  impertinently ;  if  therefore  you  are 
not  as  fond  of  seeing,  as  I  am  of  shewing  myself  in 
all  my  Lights,  you  may  turn  over  two  Leaves  to- 
gether, and  leave  what  follows  to  those  who  have 
more  Curiosity,  and  less  to  do  with  their  Time,  than 
you  have. — As  I  was  saying  then,  let  us,  for  Amuse- 
ment, advance  this,  or  any  other  Prince,  to  the  most 
glorious  Throne,  mark  out  his  Empire  in  what  Clime 

the  end  of  1650,  to  take  refuge  among  his  wild  Highland  sup- 
porters, was  caused  by  the  insolent  invectives  of  the  rigid  Presby- 
terian clergymen,  who  preached  long  sermons  at  him,  on  his  own 
wickedness  and  that  of  his  father  and  mother,  and  made  his  life 
generally  a  burden. 

24  THE    LIFE    OF 

you  please,  fix  him  on  the  highest  Pinnacle  of  un- 
bounded Power ;  and  in  that  State  let  us  enquire 
into  his  degree  of  Happiness ;  make  him  at  once  the 
Terror  and  the  Envy  of  his  Neighbours,  send  his 
Ambition  out  to  War,  and  gratify  it  with  extended 
Fame  and  Victories ;  bring  him  in  triumph  home, 
with  great  unhappy  Captives  behind  him,  through 
the  Acclamations  of  his  People,  to  repossess  his 
Realms  in  Peace.  Well,  when  the  Dust  has  been 
brusht  from  his  Purple,  what  will  he  do  next  ?  Why, 
this  envy'd  Monarch  (who  we  will  allow  to  have  a  more 
exalted  Mind  than  to  be  delighted  with  the  triflinof 
Flatteries  of  a  congratulating  Circle)  will  chuse  to 
retire,  I  presume,  to  enjoy  in  private  the  Contempla- 
tion of  his  Glory ;  an  Amusement,  you  will  say,  that 
well  becomes  his  Station  !  But  there,  in  that  pleasing 
Rumination,  when  he  has  made  up  his  new  Account 
of  Happiness,  how  much,  pray,  will  be  added  to  the 
Balance  more  than  as  it  stood  before  his  last  Expedi- 
tion ?  From  what  one  Article  will  the  Improvement 
of  it  appear  ?  Will  it  arise  from  the  conscious  Pride 
of  having  done  his  weaker  Enemy  an  Injury  ?  Are 
his  Eyes  so  dazzled  with  false  Glory  that  he  thinks 
it  a  less  Crime  in  him  to  break  into  the  Palace  of  his 
Princely  Neighbour,  because  he  gave  him  time  to 
defend  it,  than  for  a  Subject  feloniously  to  plunder 
the  House  of  a  private  Man  ?  Or  is  the  Outrage  of 
Hunger  and  Necessity  more  enormous  than  the 
Ravage  of  Ambition  ?  Let  us  even  suppose  the 
wicked  Usage  of  the  World  as  to  that  Point  may 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  25 

keep  his  Conscience  quiet ;  still,  what  Is  he  to  do 
with  the  Infinite  Spoil  that  his  Imperial  Rapine  has 
brought  home  ?  Is  he  to  sit  down  and  vainly  deck 
himself  with  the  Jewels  which  he  has  plunder'd  from 
the  Crown  of  another,  whom  Self-defence  had  com- 
pell'd  to  oppose  him  ?  No,  let  us  not  debase  his  Glory 
into  so  low  a  Weakness.  What  Appetite,  then,  are 
these  shining  Treasures  food  for  ?  Is  their  vast 
Value  In  seeing  his  vulgar  Subjects  stare  at  them, 
wise  Men  smile  at  them,  or  his  Children  play  with 
them  ?  Or  can  the  new  Extent  of  his  Dominions 
add  a  Cubit  to  his  Happiness  ?  Was  not  his  Empire 
wide  enough  before  to  do  good  in  ?  And  can  It  add 
to  his  Delight  that  now  no  Monarch  has  such  room 
to  do  mischief  In?  But  farther;  if  even  the  great 
Augustus,  to  whose  Reign  such  Praises  are  given, 
cou'd  not  enjoy  his  Days  of  Peace  free  from  the 
Terrors  of  repeated  Conspiracies,  which  lost  him 
more  Quiet  to  suppress  than  his  Ambition  cost  him 
to  provoke  them  :  What  human  Eminence  Is  secure  ? 
In  what  private  Cabinet  then  must  this  wondrous 
Monarch  lock  up  his  Happiness  that  common  Eyes 
are  never  to  behold  It  ?  Is  It,  like  his  Person,  a 
Prisoner  to  Its  own  Superiority  ?  Or  does  he  at  last 
poorly  place  it  In  the  Triumph  of  his  Injurious  De- 
vastations ?  One  Moment's  Search  Into  himself  will 
plainly  shew  him  that  real  and  reasonable  Happiness 
can  have  no  Existence  without  Innocence  and 
Liberty.  What  a  Mockery  is  Greatness  without 
them  ?      How  lonesome   must  be  the   Life  of  that 

26  THE    LIFE    OF 

Monarch  who,  while  he  governs  only  by  being 
fear'd,  is  restrain'd  from  letting  down  his  Grandeur 
sometimes  to  forget  himself  and  to  humanize  him 
into  the  Benevolence  and  Joy  of  Society  ?  To 
throw  off  his  cumbersome  Robe  of  Majesty,  to  be  a 
Man  without  disguise,  to  have  a  sensible  Taste  of 
Life  in  its  Simplicity,  till  he  confess  from  the  sweet 
Experience  that  dulce  est  desipere  m  loco  ^  was  no 
Fool's  Philosophy.  Or  if  the  gawdy  Charms  of  Pre- 
eminence are  so  strong  that  they  leave  him  no  Sense 
of  a  less  pompous,  tho'  a  more  rational  Enjoyment, 
none  sure  can  envy  him  but  those  who  are  the 
Dupes  of  an  equally  fantastick  Ambition. 

My  Imagination  is  quite  heated  and  fatigued  in 
dressing  up  this  Phantome  of  Felicity ;  but  I  hope 
it  has  not  made  me  so  far  misunderstood,  as  not  to 
have  allow'd  that  in  all  the  Dispensations  of  Provi- 
dence the  Exercise  of  a  great  and  virtuous  Mind  is 
the  most  elevated  State  of  Happiness :  No,  Sir,  I 
am  not  for  setting  up  Gaiety  against  Wisdom ;  nor 
for  preferring  the  Man  of  Pleasure  to  the  Philosopher; 
but  for  shewing  that  the  Wisest  or  greatest  Man  is 
very  near  an  unhappy  Man,  if  the  unbending  Amuse- 
ments I  am  contending  for  are  not  sometimes  ad- 
mitted to  relieve  him. 

How  far  I  may  have  over- rated  these  Amuse- 
ments let  graver  Casuists  decide ;  whether  they 
affirm  or  reject  what  I  have  asserted  hurts  not  my 

'  Hor.  Od.  iv.  12,  28. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  27 

Purpose ;  which  is  not  to  give  Laws  to  others ;  but 
to  shew  by  what  Laws  I  govern  myself:  If  I  am 
misguided,  'tis  Nature's  Fault,  and  I  follow  her  from 
this  Persuasion  ;  That  as  Nature  has  distinguish'd 
our  Species  from  the  mute  Creation  by  our  Risibility, 
her  Design  must  have  been  by  that  Faculty  as  evi- 
dently to  raise  our  Happiness,  as  by  our  Os  Sublime^ 
(our  erected  Faces)  to  lift  the  Dignity  of  our  Form 
above  them. 

Notwithstanding  all  I  have  said,  I  am  afraid  there 
is  an  absolute  Power  in  what  is  simply  call'd  our 
Constitution  that  will  never  admit  of  other  Rules 
for  Happiness  than  her  own  ;  from  which  (be  we 
never  so  wise  or  weak)  without  Divine  Assistance 
we  only  can  receive  it ;  So  that  all  this  my  Parade 
and  Grimace  of  Philosophy  has  been  only  making  a 
mighty  Merit  of  following  my  own  Inclination.  A 
very  natural  Vanity !  Though  it  is  some  sort  of 
Satisfaction  to  know  it  does  not  impose  upon  me. 
Vanity  again !  However,  think  It  what  you  will 
that  has  drawn  me  into  this  copious  Digression,  'tis 
now  high  time  to  drop  it :  I  shall  therefore  in  my 
next  Chapter  return  to  my  School,  from  whence  I 
fear  I  have  too  lone  been  Truant. 


'  "Os  homini  sublime  dedit." — Ovid,  Met.  i.  85. 


He  tliat  writes  of  himself  not  easily  tir'd.  Boys  may  give  Men 
Lessons.  The  Author's  Preferment  at  School  attended  7vith  Mis- 
fortwies.  The  Danger  of  Merit  among  Equals.  Of  Satyrists 
and  Backbiters.  What  effect  they  have  had  upon  the  Author. 
Stanzas  publish' d  by  himself  against  himself. 

IT  often  makes  me  smile  to  think  how  contentedly 
I  have  set  myself  down  to  write  my  own  Life  ; 
nay,  and  with  less  Concern  for  what  may  be  said  of 
it  than  I  should  feel  were  I  to  do  the  same  for  a 
deceased  Acquaintance.  This  you  will  easily  account 
for  when  you  consider  that  nothing  gives  a  Coxcomb 
more  delight  than  when  you  suffer  him  to  talk  of 
himself;    which   sweet  Liberty   I    here  enjoy  for  a 

THE    LIFE    OF    MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  29 

whole  Volume  together !  A  Privilege  which  neither 
cou'd  be  allow'd  me,  nor  wou'd  become  me  to  take, 
in  the  Company  I  am  generally  admitted  to ;  ^  but 
here,  when  I  have  all  the  Talk  to  myself,  and  have 
no  body  to  interrupt  or  contradict  me,  sure,  to  say 
whatever  I  have  a  mind  other  People  shou'd  know 
of  me  is  a  Pleasure  which  none  but  Authors  as  vain 
as  myself  can  conceive. But  to  my  History. 

However  little  worth  notice  the  Life  of  a  School- 
boy may  be  supposed  to  contain,  yet,  as  the  Passions 
of  Men  and  Children  have  much  the  same  Motives 
and  differ  very  little  in  their  Effects,  unless  where 
the  elder  Experience  may  be  able  to  conceal  them  : 
As  therefore  what  arises  from  the  Boy  may  possibly 
be  a  Lesson  to  the  Man,  I  shall  venture  to  relate  a 
Fact  or  two  that  happen'd  while  I  was  still  at 

In  February,  1684-5,  died  King  Charles  \\.  who 
being  the  only  King  I  had  ever  seen,  I  remember 
(young  as  I  was)  his  Death  made  a  strong  Im- 
pression upon  me,  as  it  drew  Tears  from  the  Eyes  of 
Multitudes,  who  looked  no  further  into  him  than  I 

^  Gibber  is  pardonably  vain  throughout  at  the  society  he 
moved  in.  His  greatest  social  distinction  was  his  election  as 
a  member  of  White's.  His  admission  to  such  society  was  of 
course  the  subject  of  lampoons,  such  as  the  following  : — 

"  The  Buffoon,  An  Epigram. 
Don't  boast,  prithee  Gibber,  so  much  of  thy  State, 
That  like  Pope  you  are  blest  with  the  smiles  of  the  Great ; 
With  both  they  Gonverse,  but  for  different  Ends, 
And  'tis  easy  to  know  their  Buffoons  from  their  Friends." 

30  THE    LIFE    OF 

did  :  But  it  was,  then,  a  sort  of  School- Doctrine  to 
regard  our  Monarch  as  a  Deity ;  as  in  the  former 
Reign  it  was  to  insist  he  was  accountable  to  this 
World  as  well  as  to  that  above  him.  But  what, 
perhaps,  gave  King  Charles  II.  this  peculiar  Posses- 
sion of  so  many  Hearts,  was  his  affable  and  easy 
manner  in  conversing ;  which  is  a  Quality  that  goes 
farther  with  the  greater  Part  of  Mankind  than  many 
higher  Virtues,  which,  in  a  Prince,  might  more 
immediately  regard  the  publick  Prosperity.  Even 
his  indolent  Amusement  of  playing  with  his  Dogs 
and  feeding  his  Ducks  in  St.  James  s  Park,  (which  I 
have  seen  him  do)  made  the  common  People  adore 
him,  and  consequently  overlook  in  him  what,  in  a 
Prince  of  a  different  Temper,  they  might  have  been 
out  of  humour  at. 

I  cannot  help  remembring  one  more  Particular  in 
those  Times,  tho'  it  be  quite  foreign  to  what  Avill 
follow.  I  was  carry'd  by  my  Father  to  the  Chapel 
in  Whitehall ;  where  I  saw  the  King  and  his  royal 
Brother  the  then  Duke  of  York,  with  him  in  the 
Closet,  and  present  during  the  whole  Divine  Service. 
Such  Dispensation,  it  seems,  for  his  Interest,  had 
that  unhappy  Prince  from  his  real  Religion,  to  assist 
at  another  to  which  his  Heart  was  so  utterly  averse. 

1    now  proceed  to  the   Facts   I  promis'd   to 

speak  of. 

King  Charles  his  Death  was  judg'd  by  our  School- 
master a  proper  Subject  to  lead  the  Form  I  was  in 
into  a  higher  kind  of  Exercise  ;  he  therefore  enjoin'd 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  3! 

US  severally  to  make  his  Funeral  Oration :  This 
sort  of  Task,  so  entirely  new  to  us  all,  the  Boys  re- 
ceiv'd  with  Astonishment  as  a  Work  above  their 
Capacity ;  and  tho'  the  Master  persisted  in  his  Com- 
mand, they  one  and  all,  except  myself,  resolved  to 
decline  it.  But  I,  Sir,  who  was  ever  giddily  forward 
and  thoughtless  of  Consequences,  set  myself  roundly 
to  work,  and  got  through  it  as  well  as  I  could.  I 
remember  to  this  Hour  that  single  Topick  of  his 
Affability  (which  made  me  mention  it  before)  was 
the  chief  Motive  that  warm'd  me  into  the  Under- 
taking; and  to  shew  how  very  childish  a  Notion  I 
had  of  his  Character  at  that  time,  I  raised  his 
Humanity,  and  Love  of  those  who  serv'd  him,  to 
such  Height,  that  I  imputed  his  Death  to  the  Shock 
he  receiv'd  from  the  Lord  Arlijig-toii s  beina  at  the 
point  of  Death  about  a  Week  before  him.^  This 
Oration,  such  as  it  was,  I  produc'd  the  next  Mornino- : 
All  the  other  Boys  pleaded  their  Inability,  which  the 
Master  taking  rather  as  a  mark  of  their  Modesty 
than  their  Idleness,  only  seem'd  to  punish  by  settino- 
me  at  the  Head  of  the  Form  :  A  Preferment  dearly 
bought !  Much  happier  had  I  been  to  have  sunk 
my  Performance  in  the  general  Modesty  of  de- 
clining it.  A  most  uncomfortable  Life  I  led  among 
them  for  many  a  Day  after  !  I  was  so  jeer'd,  laugh'd 
at,  and  hated  as  a  pragmatical  Bastard  (School-boys 
Language)  who  had  betray'd  the  whole  Form,  that 

'  Arlington   did  not,  however,  die  till    the    28th   July,    1685, 
surviving  Charles  II.  by  nearly  six  months. 

32  THE    LIFE    OF 

scarce  any  of  'em  wou'd  keep  me  company  ;  and  tho' 
it  so  far  advanc'd  me  into  the  Master's  Favour  that 
he  wou'd  often  take  me  from  the  School  to  grive  me 
an  Airing  with  him  on  Horseback,  while  they  were 
left  to  their  Lessons  ;  you  may  be  sure  such  envy'd 
Happiness  did  not  encrease  their  Good-will  to  me  : 
Notwithstanding  which  my  Stupidity  cou'd  take  no 
warning  from  their  Treatment.  An  Accident  of  the 
same  nature  happen'd  soon  after,  that  might  have 
frighten'd  a  Boy  of  a  meek  Spirit  from  attempting 
any  thing  above  the  lowest  Capacity.  On  the  23d 
of  April  following,  being  the  Coronation- Day  of  the 
new  King,  the  School  petition'd  the  Master  for  leave 
to  play ;  to  which  he  agreed,  provided  any  of  the 
Boys  would    produce   an   English    Ode    upon   that 

Occasion. The  very  Word,  Ode,  I  know  makes 

you  smile  already ;  and  so  it  does  me  ;  not  only 
because  it  still  makes  so  many  poor  Devils  turn  Wits 
upon  it,  but  from  a  more  agreeable  Motive;  from  a 
Reflection  of  how  little  I  then  thought  that,  half  a 
Century  afterwards,  I  shou'd  be  call'd  upon  twice  a 
year,  by  my  Post,^  to  make  the  same  kind  of  Obla- 
tions to  an  unexceptionable  Prince,  the  serene  Happi- 
ness of  whose  Reign  my  halting  Rhimes  are  still  so 
unequal  to This,  I  own,  is  Vanity  without  Dis- 
guise ;  but  Hcec  olhn  meminisse  jiivat  :^  The  remem- 
brance of  the  miserable  prospect  we  had  then  before 

^  Gibber  was  appointed  Poet-Laureate  on  the  death  of  Eusden. 
His  appointment  was  dated  3rd  December,  1730. 
^  "  Forsan  et  haecolim  meminisse  juvabit." — Virg.  ^neid,  i.  207. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  7,3 

US,  and  have  since  escaped  by  a  Revolution,  is  now 
a  Pleasure  which,  without  that  Remembrance,  I 
could  not  so  heartily  have  enjoy'd.^  The  Ode  I  was 
speaking  of  fell  to  my  Lot,  which  in  about  half  an 
Hour  I  produc'd.  I  cannot  say  it  was  much  above 
the  merry  Style  of  Sing  !  Sing  the  Day,  and  sing  the 
Song,  in  the  Farce  :  Yet  bad  as  it  was,  it  serv'd  to 
get  the  School  a  Play-day,  and  to  make  me  not  a 
little  vain  upon  it ;  which  last  Effect  so  disgusted 
my  Play-fellows  that  they  left  me  out  of  the  Party  I 
had  most  a  mind  to  be  of  in  that  Day's  Recreation. 
But  their  Ingratitude  serv'd  only  to  increase  my 
Vanity  ;  for  I  consider'd  them  as  so  many  beaten 
Tits  that  had  just  had  the  Mortification  of  seeing 
my  Hack  of  a  Pegasus  come  in  before  them.  This 
low  Passion  is  so  rooted  in  our  Nature  that  some- 
times riper  Heads  cannot  govern  it.  I  have  met 
with  much  the  same  silly  sort  of  Coldness,  even  from 
my  Contemporaries  of  the  Theatre,  from  having  the 
superfluous  Capacity  of  writing  myself  the  Characters 
I  have  acted. 

Here,  perhaps,  I  may  again  seem  to  be  vain  ;  but 
if  all  these  Facts  are  true  (as  true  they  are)  how  can 
I  help  it  ?  Why  am  I  oblig'd  to  conceal  them  } 
The  Merit  of  the  best  of  them  is  not  so  extraordinary 
as  to  have  warn'd  me  to  be  nice  upon  it ;  and  the 
Praise  due  to  them  is  so  small  a  Fish,  it  was  scarce 
worth  while  to  throw  my  Line  into  the  Water  for  it. 

^  As  Laureate,  and  as  author  of  "The  Nonjuror,"  Gibber  is 
bound  to  be  extremely  loyal  to  the  Protestant  dynasty. 

34  THE    LIFE    OF 

If  I  confess  my  Vanity  while  a  Boy,  can  it  be  Vanity, 
when  a  Man,  to  remember  it  ?  And  if  I  have  a 
tolerable  Feature,  will  not  that  as  much  belong  to 
my  Picture  as  an  Imperfection  ?  In  a  word,  from 
what  I  have  mentioned,  I  wou'd  observe  only  this  ; 
That  when  we  are  conscious  of  the  least  comparative 
Merit  in  ourselves,  we  shou'd  take  as  much  care  to 
conceal  the  Value  we  set  upon  it,  as  if  it  were  a  real 
Defect  :  To  be  elated  or  vain  upon  it  is  shewing 
your  Money  before  People  in  want ;  ten  to  one  but 
some  who  may  think  you  to  have  too  much  may 
borrow,  or  pick  your  Pocket  before  you  get  home. 
He  who  assumes  Praise  to  himself,  the  World  will 
think  overpays  himself.  Even  the  Suspicion  of 
being  vain  ought  as  much  to  be  dreaded  as  the  Guilt 
itself.  CcBsar  was  of  the  same  Opinion  in  regard  to 
his  Wife's  Chastity.  Praise,  tho'  it  may  be  our  due, 
is  not  like  a  Bank-Bill,  to  be  paid  upon  Demand ;  to 
be  valuable  it  must  be  voluntary.  When  we  are 
dun'd  for  it,  we  have  a  Right  and  Privilege  to  refuse 
it.  If  Compulsion  insists  upon  it,  it  can  only  be  paid 
as  Persecution  in  Points  of  Faith  is,  in  a  counterfeit 
Coin :  And  who  ever  believ'd  Occasional  Con- 
formity to  be  sincere  ?  Nero,  the  most  vain  Cox- 
comb of  a  Tyrant  that  ever  breath'd,  cou'd  not  raise 
an  unfeigned  Applause  of  his  Harp  by  military 
Execution  ;  even  where  Praise  is  deserv'd.  Ill-nature 
and  Self-conceit  (Passions  that  poll  a  majority  of 
Mankind)  will  with  less  reluctance  part  with  their 
Mony  than  their  Approbation.     Men  of  the  greatest 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  35 

Merit  are  forced  to  stay  'till  they  die  before  the 
World  will  fairly  make  up  their  Account :  Then  in- 
deed you  have  a  Chance  for  your  full  Due,  because 
it  is  less  grudg'd  when  you  are  incapable  of  enjoying 
it:  Then  perhaps  even  Malice  shall  heap  Praises 
upon  your  Memory ;  tho'  not  for  your  sake,  but  that 
your  surviving  Competitors  may  suffer  by  a  Com- 
parison.' 'Tis  from  the  same  Principle  that  Satyr 
shall  have  a  thousand  Readers  where  Panegyric  has 
one.  When  I  therefore  find  my  Name  at  length  in 
the  Satyrical  Works  of  our  most  celebrated  living 
Author,  I  never  look  upon  those  Lines  as  Malice 
meant  to  me,  (for  he  knows  I  never  provok'd  it)  but 
Profit  to  himself  :  One  of  his  Points  must  be,  to  have 
many  Readers  :  He  considers  that  my  Face  and 
Name  are  more  known  than  those  of  many  thousands 
of  more  consequence  in  the  Kingdom  :  That  there- 
fore,  right  or  wrong,   a  Lick  at  the  Lattreat'^  will 

^  Curiously  enough,  Gibber's  praise  of  his  deceased  companion- 
actors  has  been  attributed  to  something  of  this  motive. 

^  Bellchambers  prints  these  words  thus:  "Lick  at  theLaureat," 
as  if  Gibber  had  referred  to  the  title  of  a  book ;  and  notes  :  "  This 
is  the  title  of  a  pamphlet  in  which  some  of  Mr.  Gibber's  peculi- 
arities have  been  severely  handled."  But  I  doubt  this,  for  there 
is  nothing  in  Gibber's  arrangement  of  the  words  to  denote  that 
they  represent  the  title  of  a  book ;  and,  besides,  I  know  no  work 
with  such  a  title  published  before  1740.  Bellchambers,  in  a  note 
on  page  1 14,  represents  that  he  quotes  from  "  Lick  at  the  Laureat, 
1730;"  but  I  find  the  quotation  he  gives  in  "The  Laureat,"  1740 
(p.  31),  almost  verbatim.  As  it  stands  in  the  latter  there  is  no  hint 
that  it  is  quoted  from  a  previous  work,  nor,  indeed,  do  the  terms 
of  it   permit   of  such  an   interpretation.     I  can,  therefore,  only 

36  THE    LIFE    OF 

always  be  a  sure  Bait,  ad  captandum  vtilgus,  to  catch 
him  Httle  Readers  :  And  that  to  gratify  the  Un- 
learned, by  now  and  then  interspersing  those  merry 
Sacrifices  of  an  old  Acquaintance  to  their  Taste,  is  a 
piece  of  quite  right  Poetical  Craft.^ 

But  as  a  little  bad  Poetry  is  the  greatest  Crime 
he  lays  to  my  charge,  I  am  willing  to  subscribe  to  his 
opinion  of  it?     That  this  sort  of  Wit  is  one  of  the 

suppose  that  Bellchambers  is  wrong  in  attributing  the  sentence  to 

a  work  called  "  A  Lick  at  the  Laureat." 

'  The  principal  allusions  to  Gibber  which,  up  to  the  time  of  the 

publication  of  the    "  Apology,"   Pope   had  made,   were  in    the 


"  How,  with  less  reading  than  makes  felons  'scape, 
Less  human  genius  than  God  gives  an  ape. 
Small  thanks  to  France  and  none  to  Rome  or  Greece, 
A  past,  vamp'd,  future,  old,  reviv'd,  new  piece, 
'Twixt  Plautus,  Fletcher,  Congreve,  and  Gorneille, 
Can  make  a  Gibber,  Johnson,  or  Ozell." 

Second  edition,  Book  i.  235-240. 

"  Beneath  his  reign,  shall  Eusden  wear  the  bays, 
Gibber  preside,  Lord-Ghancellor  of  Plays." 

Second  edition,  Book  iii.  319,  320. 

In   the    "  Epistle  to   Dr.  Arbuthnot "   there  were  one  or  two 
passing  allusions  to  Gibber,  one  of  them  being  the  line  : — 

"  And  has  not  Colley  still  his  Lord  and  whore  ?  " 
for  which  Gibber  retaliated  in  his  "Letter"  of  1742. 

In  the  "First  Epistle  of  the  Second  Book  of  Horace"  (1737), 
Gibber  is  scurvily  treated.     In  it  occur  the  lines  : — 

"And  idle  Gibber,  how  he  breaks  the  laws, 
To  make  poor  Pinkey  eat  with  vast  applause  ! " 

*  Gibber's  Odes  were  a  fruitful  subject  of  banter.     Fielding  in 
"  Pasquin,"  act  ii.  sc.  i,  has  the  following  passage  : — 

"  2nd  Voter.  My  Lord,  I  should  like  a  Place  at  Gourt  too ;  I 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  2>7 

easiest  ways  too  of  pleasing  the  generality  of 
Readers,  is  evident  from  the  comfortable  subsistence 
which  our  weekly  Retailers  of  Politicks  have  been 
known  to  pick  u|d,  merely  by  making  bold  with  a 
Government  that  had  unfortunately  neglected  to  find 
their  Genius  a  better  Employment. 

Hence  too  arises  all  that  flat  Poverty  of  Censure 
and  Invective  that  so  often  has  a  Run  in  our  pub- 
lick  Papers  upon  the  Success  of  a  new  Author ; 
when,  God  knows,  there  is  seldom  above  one  Writer 
among  hundreds  in  Being  at  the  same  time  whose 
Satyr  a  Man  of  common  Sense  ought  to  be  mov'd  at. 
When  a  Master  in  the  Art  is  angry,  then  indeed  we 
ought  to  be  alarm'd  !  How  terrible  a  Weapon  is 
Satyr  in  the  Hand  of  a  great  Genius  ?     Yet  even 

don't  much  care  what  it  is,  provided  I  wear  fine  Cloaths,  and  have 
something  to  do  in  the  Kitchen,  or  the  Cellar ;  I  own  I  should 
like  the  Cellar,  for  I  am  a  divilish  Lover  of  Sack. 

Lord  Place.  Sack,  say  you  ?     Odso,  you  shall  be  Poet-Laureat. 

2nd  Voter.  Poet !  no,  my  Lord,  I  am  no  Poet,  I  can't  make 

Lord  Place.  No  Matter  for  that — you'll  be  able  to  make  Odes. 

2nd  Voter.  Odes,  my  Lord!  what  are  those? 

Lord  Place.  Faith,  Sir,  I  can't  tell  well  what  they  are ;  but  I 
know  you  may  be  quaHfied  for  the  Place  without  being  a  Poet." 

Boswell  ("  Life  of  Johnson,"  i.  402)  reports  that  Johnson  said, 
"  His  [Cibber's]  friends  give  out  that  he  Intendedhis  birth-day  Odes 
should  be  bad :  but  that  was  not  the  case.  Sir;  for  he  kept  them 
many  months  by  him,  and  a  few  years  before  he  died  he  shewed 
me  one  of  them,  with  great  solicitude  to  render  it  as  perfect  as 
might  be." 

In  "The  Egotist"  (p.  63)  Cibber  is  made  to  say:  "As  bad 

Verses  are  the  Devil,  and  good  ones  I  can't  get  up  to " 


38  THE    LIFE    OF 

there,  how  liable  is  Prejudice  to  misuse  it  ?  How- 
far,  when  general,  it  may  reform  our  Morals,  or  what 
Cruelties  it  may  inflict  by  being  angrily  particular,^ 
is  perhaps  above  my  reach  to  determine.  I  shall 
therefore  only  beg  leave  to  interpose  what  I  feel  for 
others  whom  it  may  personally  have  fallen  upon. 
When  I  read  those  mortifying  Lines  of  our  most 
eminent  Author,  in  his  Character  oi  Attiais^  {Atti- 
cus,  w4iose  Genius  in  Verse  and  whose  Morality  in 
Prose  has  been  so  justly  admir'd)  though  I  am 
charm'd  with  the  Poetry,  my  Imagination  is  hurt  at 
the  Severity  of  it ;  and  tho'  I  allow  the  Satyrist  to 
have  had  personal  Provocation,  yet,  methinks,  for 
that  very  Reason  he  ought  not  to  have  troubled  the 
Publick  with  it :  For,  as  it  is  observed  in  the  242d 
Tatler,  "In  all  Terms  of  Reproof,  when  the  Sen- 
"  tence  appears  to  arise  from  Personal  Hatred  or 
"  Passion,  it  is  not  then  made  the  Cause  of  Man- 
"  kind,  but  a  Misunderstanding  between  two  Per- 
"  sons."  But  if  such  kind  of  Satyr  has  its  incon- 
testable Greatness  ;  if  its  exemplary  Brightness  may 
not  mislead  inferior  Wits  into  a  barbarous  Imitation 
of  its  Severity,  then  I  have  only  admir'd  the  Verses, 
and  expos'd  myself  by  bringing  them  under  so  scru- 
pulous a  Reflexion  :  But  the  Pain  which  the  Acri- 
mony of  those  Verses  gave  me  is,  in  some  measure, 

^  "Champion,"  29th  April,  1740:  "When  he  says  {FoL  23) 
Satire  is  angrily  particular,  every  Dunce  of  a  Reader  knows  that 
he  means  angry  with  a  particular  Person." 

^  Gibber's  allusion  to  Pope's  treatment  of  Addison  is  a  fair  hit. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  39 

allay 'd  in  finding  that  this  inimitable  Writer,  as  he 
advances  in  Years,  has  since  had  Candour  enough 
to  celebrate  the  same  Person  for  his  visible  Merit. 
Happy  Genius!  whose  Verse,  like  the  Eye  of 
Beauty,  can  heal  the  deepest  Wounds  with  the  least 
Glance  of  Favour. 

Since  I  am  got  so  far  into  this  Subject,  you  must 
give  me  leave  to  go  thro'  all  I  have  a  mind  to 
say  upon  it ;  because  I  am  not  sure  that  in  a  more 
proper  Place  my  Memory  may  be  so  full  of  it.  I 
cannot  find,  therefore,  from  what  Reason  Satyr  is 
allow'd  more  Licence  than  Comedy,  or  why  either  of 
them  (to  be  admir'd)  ought  not  to  be  limited  by 
Decency  and  Justice.  Let  Juvenal  and  Aristo- 
phanes have  taken  what  Liberties  they  please,  if  the 
Learned  have  nothing  more  than  their  Antiquity  to 
justify  their  laying  about  them  at  that  enormous 
rate,  I  shall  wish  they  had  a  better  excuse  for  them ! 
The  Personal  Ridicule  and  Scurrility  thrown  upon 
Socrates,  which  Plutarch  too  condemns ;  and  the 
Boldness  of  Juvenal,  in  writing  real  Names  over 
guilty  Characters,  I  cannot  think  are  to  be  pleaded  in 
right  of  our  modern  Liberties  of  the  same  kind.  Facit 
indignatio  version  ^  may  be  a  very  spirited  Expres- 
sion, and  seems  to  give  a  Reader  hopes  of  a  lively 
Entertainment :  But  I  am  afraid  Reproof  is  in  un- 
equal Hands  when  Anger  is  its  Executioner ;  and 
tho'  an  outrageous  Invective  may  carry  some  Truth 
in  it,  yet  it  will  never  have  that  natural,  easy  Credit 
^  Juvenal,  i.  79. 

40  THE    LIFE    OF 

with  US  which  we  give  to  the  laughing  Ironies  of  a 
cool  Head.  The  Satyr  that  can  smile  circum prce- 
cordia  hidit,  and  seldom  fails  to  bring  the  Reader 
quite  over  to  his  Side  whenever  Ridicule  and  folly 
are  at  variance.  But  when  a  Person  satyriz'd  is  us'd 
with  the  extreamest  Rigour,  he  may  sometimes  meet 
with  Compassion  instead  of  Contempt,  and  throw 
back  the  Odium  that  was  designed  for  him,  upon 
the  Author.  When  I  would  therefore  disarm  the 
Satyrist  of  this  Indignation,  I  mean  little  more  than 
that  I  would  take  from  him  all  private  or  personal 
Prejudice,  and  wou'd  still  leave  him  as  much  general 
Vice  to  scourge  as  he  pleases,  and  that  with  as  much 
Fire  and  Spirit  as  Art  and  Nature  demand  to  enliven 
his  Work  and  keep  his  Reader  awake. 

Against  all  this  it  may  be  objected,  That  these  are 
Laws  which  none  but  phlegmatick  Writers  will  ob- 
serve, and  only  Men  of  Eminence  should  give.  I 
grant  it,  and  therefore  only  submit  them  to  Writers 
of  better  Judgment.  I  pretend  not  to  restrain  others 
from  chusing  what  I  don't  like ;  they  are  welcome  (if 
they  please  too)  to  think  I  offer  these  Rules  more  from 
an  Incapacity  to  break  them  than  from  a  moral  Hu- 
manity. Let  it  be  so  !  still,  That  will  not  weaken  the 
strength  of  what  I  have  asserted,  if  my  Assertion  be 
true.  And  though  I  allow  that  Provocation  is  not 
apt  to  weigh  out  its  Resentments  by  Drachms  and 
Scruples,  I  shall  still  think  that  no  publick  Revenge 
can  be  honourable  where  it  is  not  limited  by  Jus- 
tice ;  and  if  Honour  is  insatiable  in  its  Revenue  it 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  4 1 

loses  what  it  contends  for  and  sinks  itself,  if  not  into 
Cruelty,  at  least  into  Vain-glory. 

This  so  singular  Concern  which  I  have  shewn  for 
others  may  naturally  lead  you  to  ask  me  what  I  feel 
for  myself  when  I  am  unfavourably  treated  by  the 
elaborate  Authors  of  our  daily  Papers.^  Shall  I  be 
sincere  ?  and  own  my  frailty  ?  Its  usual  Effect 
is  to  make  me  vain !  For  I  consider  if  I  were 
quite  good  for  nothing  these  Pidlers  in  Wit 
would  not  be  concern'd  to  take  me  to  pieces,  or 
(not  to  be  quite  so  vain)  when  they  moderately 
charge  me  with  only  Ignorance  or  Dulness,  I  see 
nothine  in  That  which  an  honest  Man  need  be 
asham'd  of:^  There  is  many  a  good  Soul  who  from 
those  sweet  Slumbers  of  the  Brain  are  never 
awaken'd  by  the  least  harmful  Thought ;  and  I  am 

^  Davies  {"Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  511)  says:  "If  we  except  the 
remarks  on  plays  and  players  by  the  authors  of  the  Tatler  and 
Spectator,  the  theatrical  observations  in  those  days  were  coarse 
and  illiberal,  when  compared  to  what  we  read  in  our  present  daily 
and  other  periodical  papers." 

^  '■'■Frankly.  Is  it  not  commendable  in  a  Man  of  Parts,  to  be 
warmly  concerned  for  his  Reputation  ? 

Author  \_Cibber'\.  In  what  regards  his  Honesty  or  Honour,  I 
will  make  you  some  Allowances  :  But  for  the  Reputation  of  his 
Parts,  not  one  Tittle  ! " — "  The  Egotist :  or,  Colley  upon  Gibber," 

p.  13- 

Bellchambers  notes  here:  "When  Gibber  was  charged  with 
moral  offences  of  a  deeper  dye,  he  thought  himself  at  liberty,  I 
presume,  to  relinquish  his  indifference,  and  bring  the  libeller  to 
account.  On  a  future  page  will  be  found  the  public  advertise- 
ment in  which  he  offered  a  reward  of  ten  pounds  for  the  detection 
of  Dennis." 

42  THE    LIFE    OF 

sometimes  tempted  to  think  those  Retailers  of  Wit 
may  be  of  the  same  Class  ;  that  what  they  write  pro- 
ceeds not  from  Malice,  but  Industry;  and  that  I 
ought  no  more  to  reproach  them  than  I  would  a 
Lawyer  that  pleads  against  me  for  his  Fee ;  that 
their  Detraction,  like  Dung  thrown  upon  a  Meadow, 
tho'  it  may  seem  at  first  to  deform  the  Prospect,  in  a 
little  time  it  will  disappear  of  itself  and  leave  an  in- 
voluntary Crop  of  Praise  behind  it. 

When  they  confine  themselves  to  a  sober  Criticism 
upon  what  I  write ;  if  their  Censure  is  just,  what 
answer  can  I  make  to  it  ?  If  it  is  unjust,  why  should 
I  suppose  that  a  sensible  Reader  will  not  see  it,  as 
well  as  myself?  Or,  admit  I  were  able  to  expose 
them  by  a  laughing  Reply,  will  not  that  Reply  beget 
a  Rejoinder  ?  And  though  they  might  be  Gainers 
by  having  the  worst  on't  in  a  Paper  War,  that  is  no 
Temptation  for  me  to  come  into  it.  Or  (to  make 
both  sides  less  considerable)  would  not  my  bearing 
Ill-language  from  a  Chimney-sweeper  do  me  less 
harm  than  it  would  be  to  box  with  him,  tho'  I  were 
sure  to  beat  him  ?  Nor  indeed  is  the  little  Reputa- 
tion I  have  as  an  Author  worth  the  trouble  of  a  De- 
fence. Then,  as  no  Criticism  can  possibly  make  me 
worse  than  I  really  am  ;  so  nothing  I  can  say  of  my- 
self can  possibly  make  me  better  :  When  therefore 
a  determined  Critick  comes  arm'd  with  Wit  and  Out- 
rage to  take  from  me  that  small  Pittance  I  have,  I 
wou'd  no  more  dispute  with  him  than  I  wou'd  resist 
a  Gentleman  of  the   Road  to  save  a  little  Pocket- 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  43 

Money. ^  Men  that  are  in  want  themselves  seldom 
make  a  Conscience  of  taking  it  from  others.  Who- 
ever thinks  I  have  too  much  is  welcome  to  what 
share  of  it  he  pleases  :  Nay,  to  make  him  more  mer- 
ciful (as  I  partly  guess  the  worst  he  can  say  of  what 
I  now  write)  I  will  prevent  even  the  Imputation  of 
his  doing  me  Injustice,  and  honestly  say  it  myself, 
viz.  That  of  all  the  Assurances  I  was  ever  guilty  of, 
this  of  writing  my  own   Life  is  the  most  hardy.      I 

beg  his  Pardon  ! Impudent  is  what  I  should 

have  said !  That  through  every  Page  there  runs  a 
Vein  of  Vanity  and  Impertinence  which  no  French 
Ensigns  ineinoii'es  ever  came  up  to ;  but,  as  this  is  a 
common  Error,  I  presume  the  Terms  of  Doating 
Trijler,  Old  Fool,  or  Conceited  Coxcomb  will  carry 
Contempt  enough  for  an  impartial  Censor  to  bestow 
on  me ;  that  my  style  is  unequal,  pert,  and  frothy, 
patch'd  and  party-colour'd  like  the  Coat  of  an  Harle- 
quin ;  low  and  pompous,  cramm'd  with  Epithets, 
strew'd  with  Scraps  of  second-hand  Latin  from  com- 
mon Quotations  ;  frequently  aiming  at  Wit,  without 
ever  hitting  the  Mark ;  a  mere  Ragoust  toss'd  up 
from  the  offals  of  other  authors  :  My  Subject  below 
all  Pens  but  my  own,  which,  whenever  I  keep  to,  is 
flatly  daub'd  by  one  eternal  Egotism  :  That  I  want 

^  "  Frankly.  It  will  be  always  natural  for  Authors  to  defend  their 

Author  \^Ciliber\  And  would  it  not  be  as  well,  if  their  Works 
defended  themselves?  " — "The  Egotist :  or,  Colley  upon  Gibber," 
P-  15- 

44  THE    LIFE    OF 

nothing  but  Wit  to  be  as  accomplish'd  a  Coxcomb 
here  as  ever  I  attempted  to  expose  on  the  Theatre : 
Nay,  that  this  very  Confession  is  no  more  a  Sign  of 
my  Modesty  than  it  is  a  Proof  of  my   Judgment, 

that,  in  short,  you  may  roundly  tell  me,  that 

Cmna  (or  Cibber)  vult  videri  Pauper^  et  est  Patiper. 

When  humble  Cinna  cries,  I'm  poor  and  low, 
You  may  believe  him he  is  really  so. 

Well,  Sir  Critick  !  and  what  of  all  this  ?  Now  I 
have  laid  myself  at  your  Feet,  what  will  you  do  with 
me  ?  Expose  me  ?  Why,  dear  Sir,  does  not  every 
Man  that  writes  expose  himself?  Can  you  make 
me  more  ridiculous  than  Nature  has  made  me  ?  You 
cou'd  not  sure  suppose  that  I  would  lose  the  Plea- 
sure of  Writing  because  you  might  possibly  judge 
me  a  Blockhead,  or  perhaps  might  pleasantly  tell 
other  People  they  ought  to  think  me  so  too.  Will 
not  they  judge  as  well  from  what  /  say  as  what  You 
say  ?  If  then  you  attack  me  merely  to  divert  your- 
self, your  Excuse  for  writing  will  be  no  better  than 
mine.  But  perhaps  you  may  want  Bread  :  If  that 
be  the  Case,  even  go  to  Dinner,  i'  God's  name !  ^ 

If  our  best  Authors,  when  teiz'd  by  these  Triflers, 
have  not  been  Masters  of  this  Indifference,  I  should 
not  wonder  if  it  were  disbeliev'd  in  me ;  but  when  it 
is  consider'd  that  I  have  allow'd  my  never  having 

1  In  his  "  Letter  to  Pope,"  1 742,  p.  7,  Cibber  says  :  "  After  near 
twenty  years  having  been  hbell'd  by  our  Daily-paper  Scriblers,  I 
never  uas  so  hurt,  as  to  give  them  one  single  Answer." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  45 

been  disturb'd  into  a  Reply  has  proceeded  as  much 
from  Vanity  as  from  Philosophy,^  the  Matter  then 
may  not  seem  so  incredible  :  And  tho'  I  confess  the 
complete  Revenge  of  making  them  Immortal  Dunces 
in  Immortal  Verse  might  be  glorious;  yet,  if  you 
will  call  it  Insensibility  in  me  never  to  have  winc'd 
at  them,  even  that  Insensibility  has  its  happiness,  and 
what  could  Glory  give  me  more  ?  ^  For  my  part,  I 
have  always  had  the  comfort  to  think,  whenever  they 
design'd  me  a  Disfavour,  it  generally  flew  back  into 
their  own  Faces,  as  it  happens  to  Children  when  they 
squirt  at  their  Play-fellows  against  the  Wind.  If  a 
Scribbler  cannot  be  easy  because  he  fancies  I  have 
too  good  an  Opinion  of  my  own  Productions,  let  him 
write  on  and  mortify ;  I  owe  him  not  the  Charity  to 
be  out  of  temper  myself  merely  to  keep  him  quiet 
or  give  him  Joy  :  Nor,  in  reality,  can  I  see  why  any 
thing  misrepresented,  tho'  believ'd  of  me  by  Persons 
to  whom  I  am  unknown,  ought  to  give  me  any  more 
Concern  than  what  may  be  thought  of  me  in  Lap- 
land:  'Tis  with  those  with  whom  I  am  to  liveoxAy, 
where  my  Character  can  affect  me ;  and  I  will  ven- 

^'■^ Frankly.  I  am  afraid  you  will  discover  yourself;  and  your 
Philosophical  Air  will  come  out  at  last  meer  Vanity  in  Masquerade. 

Author  \_Cibber].  O  !  if  there  be  Vanity  in  keeping  one's  Tem- 
per; with  all  my  Heart." — "The  Egotist:  or,  Colley  upon 
Gibber,"  p.  13. 

2  In  his  "Letter  to  Pope,"  1742,  p.  9,  Gibber  says:  "  I  would 
not  have  even  your  merited  Fame  in  Poetry,  if  it  were  to  be 
attended  with  half  the  fretful  Solicitude  you  seem  to  have  lain 
under  to  maintain  it." 

46  THE    LIFE    OF 

ture  to  say,  he  must  find  out  a  new  way  of  Writing 
that  will  make  me  pass  my  Time  there  less  agreeably. 

You  see,  Sir,  how  hard  it  is  for  a  Man  that  is 
talking  of  himself  to  know  when  to  give  over ;  but  if 
you  are  tired,  lay  me  aside  till  you  have  a  fresh  Ap- 
petite; if  not,  I'll  tell  you  a  Story. 

In  the  Year  1730  there  were  many  Authors 
whose  Merit  wanted  nothing^  but  Interest  to  recom- 
mend  them  to  the  vacant  Laurel,  and  who  took  it  ill 
to  see  it  at  last  conferred  upon  a  Comedian  ;  inso- 
much, that  they  were  resolved  at  least  to  shew 
specimens  of  their  superior  Pretensions,  and  accord- 
ingly enliven'd  the  publick  Papers  with  ingenious 
Epigrams  and  satyrical  Flirts  at  the  unworthy  Suc- 
cessor :  ^  These  Papers  my  Friends  with  a  wicked 
Smile  would  often  put  into  my  Hands  and  desire 
me  to  read  them  fairly  in  Company  :  This  was  a 
Challenge  which  I  never  declin'd,  and,  to  do  my 
doughty  Antagonists  Justice,   I   always   read  them 

^  The  best  epigram  is  that  which  Gibber  ("Letter,"  1742,  p. 
39)  attributes  to  Pope  : — 

"  In  merry  Old  England,  it  once  was  a  Rule, 

The  King  had  his  Poet,  and  also  his  Fool. 

But  now  we're  so  frugal,  I'd  have  you  to  know  it, 

That  Gibber  can  serve  both  for  Fool  and  for  Poet." 
Dr.  Johnson  also  wrote  an  epigram,  of  which  he  seems  to  have 
been  somewhat  proud  : — 

"  Augustus  still  survives  in  Maro's  strain, 

And  Spenser's  verse  prolongs  Eliza's  reign  ; 

Great  George's  acts  let  tuneful  Gibber  sins 

For  Nature  form'd  the  Poet  for  the  Kinji." 

Boswell,  i.  149. 


with  as  much  impartial  Spirit  as  if  I  had  writ  them 
myself.  While  I  was  thus  beset  on  all  sides,  there 
happen'd  to  step  forth  a  poetical  Knight-Errant  to 
my  Assistance,  who  was  hardy  enough  to  publish 
some  compassionate  Stanzas  in  my  Favour.  These, 
you  may  be  sure,  the  Raillery  of  my  Friends  could 
do  no  less  than  say  I  had  written  to  myself.  To 
deny  it  I  knew  would  but  have  confirmed  their  pre- 
tended Suspicion  :  I  therefore  told  them,  since  it 
gave  them  such  Joy  to  believe  them  my  own,  I 
would  do  my  best  to  make  the  whole  Town  think 
so  too.  As  the  Oddness  of  this  Reply  was  I  knew 
what  would  not  be  easily  comprehended,  I  desired 
them  to  have  a  Days  patience,  and  I  would  print  an 
Explanation  to  it :  To  conclude,  in  two  Days  after  I 
sent  this  Letter,  with  some  doggerel  Rhimes  at  the 

To  the  Author  of  the  Whitehall  Evening-Post. 

'T^HE  Verses  to  the  Laiircat  in  yours  of  Saturday 
last  have  occasiorid  the  followmg  Reply,  which  I 

In  "  Certain  Epigrams,  in  Laud  and  Praise  of  the  Gentlemen 
of  the  Dunciad,"  p.  8,  is  : — 

Epigram  XVI. 
A  Question  by  Anonymus. 
"  Tell,  if  you  can,  which  did  the  worse, 

Caligula,  or  Gr — ii's  [Grafton's]  Gr — ce  ? 
That  made  a  Consul  of  a  Horse, 
And  this  a  Laureate  of  an  AssT 
In  "The  Egotist:  or,  Colley  upon  Gibber,"  p.  49,  Gibber  is 

48  THE    LIFE   OF 

hope  yotCll  give  a  Place  in  your  next,  to  shew  that  we 
can  be  quick  as  well  as  smart  iipon  a  proper  Occasion : 
And,  as  I  think  it  the  lowest  Afark  of  a  Scoundrel  to 
make  bold  with  any  Mails  Character  in  Print  with- 
out subscribing  the  true  Name  of  the  Author  ;  I  there- 
fore desire,  if  the  Laureat  is  concern  d  enough  to  ask 
the  Question,  that  you  will  tell  hiin  my  Name  and 
where  I  live  ;  till  theit,  I  beg  leave  to  be  known  by  no 

other  than  that  of 

Your  Servant, 
Monday,  Jan.  II,  1730.  FraNCIS   FaIRPLAY. 

These  were  the  Verses.^ 


Ah,  hah  !  Sir  Coll,  is  that  thy  Way, 
Thy  own  dull  Praise  to  write  ? 

And  woiid' st  thou,  stand  so  sure  a  Layf 
No,  that's  too  stale  a  Bite. 


Nature  and  A  rt  in  thee  combine. 

Thy  Talents  here  excel : 
A II  shining  Brass  thou  dost  outshine. 

To  play  the  Cheat  so  well. 

Who  sees  thee  in  lago's  Part, 
But  thinks  thee  such  a  Rogue  f 

made  to  say  :  "  An  Ode  is  a  Butt,  that  a  whole  Quiver  of  Wit  is 
let  fly  at  every  Year  ! " 

^  "  The  Laureat "  says  :  "  The  Things  he  calls  Verses,  carry  the 
most  evident  Marks  of  their  Parent  Col/ey." — p.  24. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  49 

And  is  not  glad,  with  all  his  Heart, 

To  hang  so  sad  a  Dog  f 


When  Bays  thou  play' st,  Thyself  thou  art ; 

For  that  by  N attire  fit, 
No  Blockhead  better  suits  tJie  Part, 

Than  such  a  Coxcoinb  Wit, 


In  Wronghead  too,  thy  Brains  we  see, 

Who  might  do  well  at  Plough  ; 
As  fit  for  Parliament  zvas  he, 

As  for  the  Laurel,  Thozi. 


Bring  thy  protected  Verse  from  Court, 

And  try  it  on  the  Stage  ; 
There  it  will  make  much  better  Sport, 

And  set  the  Town  in  Rage. 


There  Beaux  and  Wits  and  Cits  and  Smarts, 

Where  Hissing's  not  tmcivil, 
Will  shew  their  Parts  to  thy  Deserts, 

And  send  it  to  the  Devil. 

But,  ah !  in  vain  Against  Thee  we  write, 

In  vain  thy  Verse  we  maul ! 
Our  sharpest  Satyr  s  thy  Delight, 

*  For Blood  !  thou'lt  stand  it  all. 

*  A  Line  in  the  Epilogue  to  the  Nonjuror. 

50  THE    LIFE    OF 


Thunder,  'tis  said,  the  Laurel  spares  ; 
Nought  but  thy  Brows  could  blast  it : 

And  yet O  ctirst,  p7'ovoking  Stars  ! 

Thy  Comfort  is,  thou  hast  it. 

This,  Sir,  I  offer  as  a  Proof  that  I  was  seven 
Years  ago  ^  the  same  cold  Candidate  for  Fame 
which  I  would  still  be  thought ;  you  will  not  easily 
suppose  I  could  have  much  Concern  about  it,  while, 
to  gratify  the  merry  Pique  of  my  Friends,  I  was 
capable  of  seeming  to  head  the  Poetical  Cry  then 
against  me,  and  at  the  same  Time  of  never  letting 
the  Publick  know  'till  this  Hour  that  these  Verses 
were  written  by  myself :  Nor  do  I  give  them  you  as 
an  Entertainment,  but  merely  to  shew  you  this  par- 
ticular Cast  of  my  Temper. 

When  I  have  said  this,  I  would  not  have  it  thought 
Affectation  in  me  when  I  grant  that  no  Man  worthy 
the  Name  of  an  Author  is  a  more  faulty  Writer  than 
myself;  that  I  am  not  Master  of  my  own  Language^ 

^  This  allusion  to  time  shows  that  Gibber  began  his  "  Apology  " 
about  1737. 

^  Fielding  has  many  extremely  good  attacks  on  Gibber's  style 
and  language.     For  instance  : — 

"  I  shall  here  only  obviate  a  flying  Report  .  .  .  that  whatever 
Language  it  was  writ  in,  it  certainly  could  not  be  English.  .  .  . 
Now  I  shall  prove  it  to  be  English  in  the  following  Manner. 
Whatever  Book  is  writ  in  no  other  Language,  is  writ  in  English. 
This  Book  is  writ  in  no  other  Language,  Ergo,  It  is  writ  in 
English." — "  Ghampion,"  22nd  April,  1740. 

Again  ("Joseph  Andrews,"  book  iii.  chap,  vi.),  addressing  the 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  5 1 

I  too  often  feel  when  I  am  at  a  loss  for  Expression  : 
I  know  too  that  I  have  too  bold  a  Disregard  for  that 
Correctness  which  others  set  so  just  a  Value  upon  : 
This  I  ought  to  be  ashamed  of,  when  I  find  that 
Persons,  perhaps  of  colder  Imaginations,  are  allowed 
to  write  better  than  myself.  Whenever  I  speak  of 
any  thing  that  highly  delights  me,  I  find  it  very  diffi- 
cult to  keep  my  Words  within  the  Bounds  of  Com- 
mon Sense  :  Even  when  I  write  too,  the  same  Failing 
will  sometimes  get  the  better  of  me  ;  of  which  I 
cannot  give  you  a  stronger  Instance  than  in  that 
wild  Expression  I  made  use  of  in  the  first  Edition  of 
my  Preface  to  the  Provok'd  Husband ;  where,  speak- 
ing of  Mrs.  Oidjield's  excellent  Performance  in  the 
Part  of  Lady  Townlyy  my  Words  ran  thus,  viz.  It  is 
not  enough  to  say,  that  here  she  outdid  her  usual  Out- 
doing}— A  most  vile  Jingle,  I  grant  it !  You  may 
well  ask  me.  How  could  I  possibly  commit  such  a 
Wantonness  to  Paper  ?  And  I  owe  myself  the 
Shame  of  confessing  I  have  no  Excuse  for  it  but 
that,  like  a  Lover  in  the  Fulness  of  his  Content,  by 
endeavouring  to  be  floridly  grateful  I  talk'd  Non- 
sense. Not  but  it  makes  me  smile  to  remember 
how  many  flat  Writers  have  made  themselves 
brisk  upon  this  single   Expression ;    wherever   the 

Muse  or  Genius  that  presides  over  Biography,  he  says  :  "  Thou, 
who,  without  the  assistance  of  the  least  spice  of  Hterature,  and 
even  against  his  incUnation,  hast,  in  some  pages  of  his  book, 
forced  CoUey  Gibber  to  write  Enghsh." 

•  In  later  editions  the  expression  was  changed  to  "  She  here 
out-did  her  usual  excellence." 

52  THE    LIFE    OF 

Verb,  Outdo,  could  come  in,  the  pleasant  Accusative, 
Outdoiiigy  was  sure  to  follow  it.  The  provident 
Wags  knew  that  Z^^^z'^i-  repetita  place7^et  :^  so  delicious 
a  Morsel  could  not  be  serv'd  up  too  often !  After  it 
had  held  them  nine  times  told  for  a  Jest,  the  Publick 
has  been  pester'd  with  a  tenth  Skull  thick  enough  to 
repeat  it.  Nay,  the  very  learned  in  the  Law  have 
at  last  facetiously  laid  hold  of  it !  Ten  Years  after 
it  first  came  from  me  it  served  to  enliven  the  elo- 
quence of  an  eloquent  Pleader  before  a  House  of 
Parliament !  What  Author  would  not  envy  me  so 
frolicksome  a  Fault  that  had  such  publick  Honours 
paid  to  it  ? 

After  this  Consciousness  of  my  real  Defects,  you 
will  easily  judge,  Sir,  how  little  I  presume  that  my 
Poetical  Labours  may  outlive  those  of  my  mortal 
Cotemporaries.  "^ 

At  the  same  time  that  I  am  so  humble  in  my  Pre- 
tensions to  Fame,  I  would  not  be  thought  to  under- 
value it ;  Nature  will  not  suffer  us  to  despise  it,  but 
she  may  sometimes  make  us  too  fond  of  it.  I  have 
known  more  than  one  good  Writer  very  near  ridicu- 
lous from  being  in  too  much  Heat  about  it.  Who- 
ever intrinsically  deserves  it  will  always  have  a  pro- 

'  "Decies  repetita  placebit." — Horace,  Ars  Poetica,  365. 
"  "  For  instance  :  when  you  rashly  think, 

No  rhymer  can  Hke  Welsted  sink, 

His  merits  balanc'd,  you  shall  find, 

The  laureat  leaves  him  far  behind." 

Swift,  On  Podry :  a  Rhapsody,  1,  393. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  53 

portionable  Right  to  it.  It  can  neither  be  resign'd 
nor  taken  from  you  by  Violence.  Truth,  which  is 
unalterable,  must  (however  his  Fame  may  be  con- 
tested) give  every  Man  his  Due  :  What  a  Poem 
weighs  it  will  be  worth  ;  nor  is  it  in  the  Power  of 
Human  Eloquence,  with  Favour  or  Prejudice,  to 
increase  or  diminish  its  Value.  Prejudice,  'tis  true, 
may  a  while  discolour  it ;  but  it  will  always  have  its 
Appeal  to  the  Equity  of  good  Sense,  which  will 
never  fail  in  the  End  to  reverse  all  false  Judgment 
aorainst  it.  Therefore  when  I  see  an  eminent  Author 
hurt,  and  impatient  at  an  impotent  Attack  upon  his 
Labours,  he  disturbs  my  Inclination  to  admire  him  ; 
I  grow  doubtful  of  the  favourable  Judgment  I  have 
made  of  him,  and  am  quite  uneasy  to  see  him  so 
tender  in  a  Point  he  cannot  but  know  he  ought  not 
himself  to  be  judge  of;  his  Concern  indeed  at 
another's  Prejudice  or  Disapprobation  may  be  natu- 
ral ;  but  to  own  it  seems  to  me  a  natural  Weakness. 
When  a  Work  is  apparently  great  it  will  go  without 
Crutches  ;  all  your  Art  and  Anxiety  to  heighten  the 
Fame  of  it  then  becomes  low  and  little.^  He  that 
will  bear  no  Censure  must  be  often  robb'd  of  his 
due  Praise.  Fools  have  as  good  a  Right  to  be 
Readers  as  Men  of  Sense  have,  and  why  not  to  give 

^  "  Frankly.  Then  for  your  Reputation,  if  you  won't  bustle 
about  it,  and  now  and  then  give  it  these  little  Helps  of  Art,  how 
can  you  hope  to  raise  it  ? 

Author  \_Cibber\  If  it  can't  live  upon  simple  Nature,  let  it  die, 
and  be  damn'd  !  I  shall  give  myself  no  further  Trouble  about 
it." — "The  Egotist :  or,  Colley  upon  Gibber,"  p.  9. 


54  THE    LIFE    OF  MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER. 

their  Judgrnents  too  ?  Methinks  it  would  be  a  sort 
of  Tyranny  in  Wit  for  an  Author  to  be  publickly 
putting  every  Argument  to  death  that  appear'd 
against  him  ;  so  absolute  a  Demand  for  Approbation 
puts  us  upon  our  Right  to  dispute  it ;  Praise  is  as 
much  the  Reader's  Property  as  Wit  is  the  Author's ; 
Applause  is  not  a  Tax  paid  to  him  as  a  Prince,  but 
rather  a  Benevolence  o^iven  to  him  as  a  Beesfar ;  and 
we  have  naturally  more  Charity  for  the  dumb  Beggar 
than  the  sturdy  one.  The  Merit  of  a  Writer  and  a 
fine  Woman's  Face  are  never  mended  by  their  talk- 
ing of  them :  How  amiable  is  she  that  seems  not  to 
know  she  is  handsome  ! 

To  conclude ;  all  I  have  said  upon  this  Subject  is 
much  better  contained  in  six  Lines  of  a  Reverend 
Author,  which  will  be  an  Answer  to  all  critical  Cen- 
sure for  ever. 

Time  is  the  Judge ;  Time  has  noi"  F^'iend  nor  Foe ; 

False  Fame  7imst  wither^  and  the  True  will  grow. 

Arm  d  with  this  Truth  all  Criticks  I  defy  ; 

For,  if  I  fall,  by  my  own  Pen  I  die  ; 

While  Snarlers  strive  with  proud  but  fruitless  Pain, 

To  wotmd  Immortals,  or  to  slay  the  Slain} 

^  Young's  second  '*  Epistle  to  Mr.  Pope." 


The  Author's  several  Chances  for  the  Churchy  the  Court,  and  the 
Army.  Going  to  the  University.  Met  the  Revolution  at  Not- 
tingham. Took  Arms  on  that  Side.  What  he  saw  of  it.  A  feiv 
Political  Thoughts.  Fortune  willing  to  do  for  him.  His  Neglect 
of  her.  The  Stage  preferred  to  all  her  Favours.  The  Profession 
of  an  Actor  considered.     The  Misfortunes  and  Advantages  of  it. 

I  AM  now  come  to  that  Crisis  of  my  Life  when 
Fortune  seem'd  to  be  at  a  Loss  what  she  should 
do  with  me.  Had  she  favour'd  my  Father's  first 
Designation  of  me,  he  might  then,  perhaps,  have 
had  as  sanguine  Hopes  of  my  being  a  Bishop  as  I 
afterwards  conceived  of  my  being  a  General  when  I 
first  took  Arms  at  the  Revolution.     Nay,  after  that  I 

56  THE    LIFE    OF 

had  a  third  Chance  too,  equally  as  good,  of  becoming 
an  Under-propper  of  the  State.  How  at  last  I  came 
to  be  none  of  all  these  the  Sequel  will  inform  you. 

About  the  Year  1687  I  was  taken  from  School  to 
stand  at  the  Election  of  Children  into  Winchester 
College  ;  my  being  by  my  Mother's  Side  a  Descen- 
dant^ of  William  of  Wickam,  the  Founder,  my  Father 
(who  knew  little  how  the  World  was  to  be  dealt  with) 
imagined  my  having  that  Advantage  would  be  Se- 
curity enough  for  my  Success,  and  so  sent  me  simply 
down  thither,  without  the  least  favourable  Recom- 
mendation or  Interest,  but  that  of  my  naked  Merit 
and  a  pompous  Pedigree  in  my  Pocket.  Had  he 
tack'd  a  Direction  to  my  Back,  and  sent  me  by  the 
Carrier  to  the  Mayor  of  the  Town,  to  be  chosen 
Member  of  Parliament  there,  I  might  have  had  just  as 
much  Chance  to  have  succeeded  in  the  one  as  the 
other.  But  I  must  not  omit  in  this  Place  to  let  you 
know  that  the  Experience  which  my  Father  then 
bought,  at  my  Cost,  taught  him  some  Years  after  to 
take  a  more  judicious  Care  of  my  younger  Brother, 
Leiuis  Cibber,  whom,  with  the  Present  of  a  Statue  of 
the  Founder,  of  his  own  making,  he  recommended 
to  the  same  College.  This  Statue  now  stands  (I 
think)  over  the  School  Door  there,^  and  was  so  well 

'  Indirectly  surely,  William  of  Wykeham  being  a  priest. 

^  I  am  indebted  to  the  courtesy  of  the  Head  Master  of  Win- 
chester College,  the  Rev.  Dr.  Fearon,  for  the  information  that 
this  statue,  a  finely  designed  and  well-executed  work,  still  stands 
over  the  door  of  the  big  school.  A  Latin  inscription  states  that 
it  was  presented  by  Caius  Gabriel  Cibber  in  1697. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  57 

executed  that  it  seem'd  to  speak for  Its  Kinsman. 

It  was  no  sooner  set  up  than  the  Door  of  Preferment 
was  open  to  him. 

Here  one  would  think  my  Brother  had  the  Advan- 
tage of  me  in  the  Favour  of  Fortune,  by  this  his  first 
laudable  Step  into  the  World.  I  own  I  was  so 
proud  of  his  Success  that  I  even  valued  myself  upon 
it ;  and  yet  it  is  but  a  melancholy  Reflection  to  ob- 
serve how  unequally  his  Profession  and  mine  were 
provided  for;  when  I,  who  had  been  the  Outcast  of 
Fortune,  could  find  means,  from  my  Income  of  the 
Theatre,  before  I  was  my  own  Master  there,  to 
supply  in  his  highest  Preferment  his  common  Ne- 
cessities. I  cannot  part  with  his  Memory  without 
telling  you  I  had  as  sincere  a  Concern  for  this 
Brother's  Well-being  as  my  own.  He  had  lively 
Parts  and  more  than  ordinary  Learning,  with  a  good 
deal  of  natural  Wit  and  Humour;  but  from  too  great 
a  disregard  to  his  Health  he  died  a  Fellow  of  New 
College  in  Oxford  soon  after  he  had  been  ordained 
by  Dr.  Compton,  then  Bishop  of  London.  I  now 
return  to  the  State  of  my  own  Affair  at  Winchester. 

After  the  Election,  the  Moment  I  was  inform'd 
that  I  was  one  of  the  unsuccessful  Candidates,  I  blest 
myself  to  think  what  a  happy  Reprieve  I  had  got 
from  the  confin'd  Life  of  a  School-boy  !  and  the  same 
Day  took  Post  back  to  London,  that  I  might  arrive 
time  enough  to  see  a  Play  (then  my  darling  Delight) 
before  my  Mother  might  demand  an  Account  of  my 
travelling  Charges.    When  I  look  back  to  that  Time, 

58  THE    LIFE    OF 

it  almost  makes  me  tremble  to  think  what  Miseries, 
in  fifty  Years  farther  in  Life,  such  an  unthinking 
Head  was  liable  to  !  To  ask  why  Providence  after- 
wards took  more  Care  of  me  than  I  did  of  myself, 
might  be  making  too  bold  an  Enquiry  into  its  secret 
Will  and  Pleasure :  All  I  can  say  to  that  Point  is, 
that  I  am  thankful  and  amazed  at  it  !^ 

'Twas  about  this  time  I  first  imbib'd  an  Inclination, 
which  I  durst  not  reveal,  for  the  Stage ;  for  besides 
that  I  knew  it  would  disoblige  my  Father,  I  had  no 
Conception  of  any  means  practicable  to  make  my 
way  to  it.  I  therefore  suppress'd  the  bewitching 
Ideas  of  so  sublime  a  Station,  and  compounded  with 
my  Ambition  by  laying  a  lower  Scheme,  of  only 
getting  the  nearest  way  into  the  immediate  Life  of  a 
Gentleman-Collegiate.  My  Father  being  at  this 
time  employ'd  at  Chattsworth  in  Derbyshire  by  the 

^  Bellchambers  finds  in  this  sentence  "a  levity,  which  accords 
with  the  charges  so  often  brought  against  Gibber  of  impiety  and 
irrehgion  ; "  and  he  quotes  from  Davies  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  506) 
two  stories — one,  that  Gibber  spat  at  a  picture  of  our  Saviour ; 
and  the  other,  that  he  endeavoured  to  enter  into  discussion  with 
•'  honest  Mr.  William  Whiston "  with  the  intention  of  insulting 
him.  Both  anecdotes  seem  to  me  rather  fooHsh.  I  do  not 
suppose  Gibber  was  in  any  sense  a  religious  man,  but  his  works 
are  far  from  giving  any  offence  to  religion  ;  and,  as  a  paid  sup- 
porter of  a  Protestant  succession,  I  think  he  was  too  prudent  to 
be  an  open  scoffer.  A  sentence  in  one  of  Victor's  "  Letters  " 
(i.  72),  written  from  Tunbridge,  would  seem  to  show  that  Gibber 
at  least  preserved  appearances.  He  says,  "  Every  one  complies 
with  what  is  called  the  fashion — Cibber  goes  constantly  to  prayers 
— and  the  Curate  (to  return  the  compliment)  as  constantly,  when 
prayers  are  over,  to  the  Gaming  table!" 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  59 

(then)  Earl  of  Devonshire,  who  was  raising  that  Seat 
from  a  Gothick  to  a  Grecian  Magnificence,  I  made 
use  of  the  Leisure  I  then  had  in  London  to  open  to 
him  by  Letter  my  Disinclination  to  wait  another 
Year  for  an  uncertain  Preferment  at  Winchester,  and 
to  entreat  him  that  he  would  send  me,  per  salttcm, 
by  a  shorter  Cut,  to  the  University.  My  Father, 
who  was  naturally  indulgent  to  me,  seem'd  to  comply 
with  my  Request,  and  wrote  word  that  as  soon  as 
his  Affairs  would  permit,  he  would  carry  me  with 
him  and  settle  me  in  some  College,  but  rather  at 
Carnbridge,  where  (during  his  late  Residence  at  that 
Place,  in  making  some  Statues  that  now  stand  upon 
Trinity  College  New  Library)  he  had  contracted 
some  Acquaintance  with  the  Heads  of  Houses,  who 
might  assist  his  Intentions  for  me.^     This   I   lik'd 

^  By  the  kindness  of  a  friend  at  Cambridge  I  am  enabled  to 
give  the  following  interesting  extracts  from  a  letter  written  by  Mr. 
William  White,  of  Trinity  College  Library,  regarding  the  statues 
here  referred  to :  "  They  occupy  the  four  piers,  subdividing  the 
balustrade  on  the  east  side  of  the  Library,  overlooking  Neville's 
Court.  The  four  Statues  represent  Divinity,  Law,  Physic,  and 
Mathematics.  That  these  were  executed  by  Mr.  Gabriel  Cibber 
our  books  will  prove.  I  will  give  you  two  or  three  extracts  from 
Grumbold's  Account  Book,  kept  in  the  Library.  He  was  Fore- 
man of  the  Works  when  the  Library  was  built.  I  think  Cibber 
cut  the  Statues  here.  It  is  quite  certain  he  and  his  men  were  here 
some  time  :  no  doubt  they  superintended  the  placing  of  them  in 
their  positions,  at  so  great  a  height. 

•  Payd  for  the  Carridg  of  a  Larg  Block  Stone  Given  by  John 
Manning  to  y'^  Coll.  for  one  of  y**  Figures  oi  :  oo  :  oo.' 

'May  7,  1681.  F"  to  M""  Gabriell  Cibber  for  cutting  four 
statues  80  :  00  :  co.' 

6o  THE    LIFE    OF 

better  than  to  go  discountenanc'd  to  Oxford,  to  which 
it  would  have  been  a  sort  of  Reproach  to  me  not  to 
have  come  elected.  After  some  Months  were  elaps'd, 
my  Father,  not  being  willing  to  let  me  lie  too  long 
idling  in  London,  sent  for  me  down  to  Chattsworth, 
to  be  under  his  Eye,  till  he  cou'd  be  at  leisure  to 
carry  me  to  Cambridge,  Before  I  could  set  out  on 
my  Journey  thither,  the  Nation  fell  in  labour  of  the 
Revolution,  the  News  being  then  just  brought  to 
London  That  the  Prince  of  Orange  at  the  Head 
of  an  Army  was  landed  in  the  West}  When  I 
came  to  Nottingham,  I  found  my  Father  in  Arms 
there,  among  those  Forces  which  the  Earl  of 
Devonshire  had  rais'd  for  the  Redress  of  our  violated 
Laws  and  Liberties.  My  Father  judg'd  this  a  proper 
Season  for  a  young  Strippling  to  turn  himself  loose 
into  the  Bustle  of  the  World ;  and  being  himself  too 
advanc'd  in  Years  to  endure  the  Winter  Fatigue 
which  might  possibly  follow,  entreated  that  noble 
Lord  that  he  would  be  pleas'd  to  accept  of  his  Son 
in  his  room,  and  that  he  would  give  him  (my  Father) 
leave  to  return  and  finish  his  Works  at  Chattsworth. 
This  was  so  well  receiv'd  by  his  Lordship  that  he 
not  only  admitted  of  my  Service,  but  promis'd  my 

'  27  June.  P"  to  y'  Widdo  Bats  for  M""  Gabriel  Gibbers  and 
his  mens  diatt  05  :  iS  :  11.  P'^  to  M''  Martin  [for  the  same] 
12  :  03  :  03.'" 

In  connection  with  these  statues  an  amusing  practical  joke  was 
played  while  Byron  was  an  undergraduate,  which  was  attributed  to 
him^unjustly,  however,  I  believe. 

^  5th  November,  1688. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  6 1 

Father  in  return  that  when  Affairs  were  settled  he 
would  provide  for  me.  Upon  this  my  Father  re- 
turn'd  to  Derbyshire,  while  I,  not  a  little  transported, 
jump'd  into  his  Saddle.  Thus  in  one  Day  all  my 
Thoughts  of  the  University  were  smother'd  in  Am- 
bition !  A  slisfht  Commission  for  a  Horse-Officer 
was  the  least  View  I  had  before  me.  At  this  Crisis 
you  cannot  but  observe  that  the  Fate  of  King  James 
and  of  the  Prince  of  Orange,  and  that  of  so  minute  a 
Being  as  my  self,  were  all  at  once  upon  the  Anvil  : 
In  what  shape  they  wou'd  severally  come  out,  tho'  a 
good  Guess  might  be  made,  was  not  then  demonstrable 
to  the  deepest  Foresight ;  but  as  my  Fortune  seem'd 
to  be  of  small  Importance  to  the  Publick,  Providence 
thought  fit  to  postpone  it  'till  that  of  those  great 
Rulers  of  Nations  was  justly  perfected.  Yet,  had 
my  Father's  Business  permitted  him  to  have  carried 
me  one  Month  sooner  (as  he  intended)  to  the  Uni- 
versity, who  knows  but  by  this  time  that  purer 
Fountain  might  have  wash'd  my  Imperfections  into 
a  Capacity  of  writing  (instead  of  Plays  and  Annual 
Odes)  Sermons  and  Pastoral  Letters.  But  whatever 
Care  of  the  Church  might  so  have  fallen  to  my  share, 
as  I  dare  say  it  may  be  now  in  better  Hands,  I  ought 
not  to  repine  at  my  being  otherwise  disposed  of.^ 

*  Fielding,  in  "  Joseph  Andrews,"  book  i.  chap,  i  :  "  How 
artfully  does  the  former  [Gibber]  by  insinuating  that  he  escaped 
being  ])romoted  to  the  highest  stations  in  the  Church  and  State, 
teach  us  a  contemijt  of  worldly  grandeur !  how  strongly  docs  he 
inculcate  an  absolute  submission  to  our  Superiors  ! " 

62  THE    LIFE   OF 

You  must  now  consider  me  as  one  among  those 
desperate  Thousands,  who,  after  a  Patience  sorely 
try'd,  took  Arms  under  the  Banner  of  Necessity,  the 
natural  Parent  of  all  Human  Laws  and  Government. 
I  question  If  in  all  the  Histories  of  Empire  there 
Is  one  Instance  of  so  bloodless  a  Revolution  as  that 
in  England  m  1688,  wherein  Whigs,  Tories,  Princes, 
Prelates,  Nobles,  Clergy,  common  People,  and  a 
Standing  Army,  were  unanimous.  To  have  seen  all 
E7igla7id  of  one  Mind  is  to  have  llv'd  at  a  very  par- 
ticular Juncture.  Happy  Nation !  who  are  never 
divided  among  themselves  but  when  they  have  least 
to  complain  of!  Our  greatest  Grievance  since  that 
Time  seems  to  have  been  that  we  cannot  all  govern  ; 
and  'till  the  Number  of  good  Places  are  equal  to 
those  who  think  themselves  qualified  for  them  there 
must  ever  be  a  Cause  of  Contention  amoncr  us. 
While  Great  Men  want  great  Posts,  the  Nation  will 
never  want  real  or  seeming  Patriots  ;  and  while  great 
Posts  are  fill'd  with  Persons  whose  Capacities  are 
but  Human,  such  Persons  will  never  be  allow'd  to  be 
without  Errors  ;  not  even  the  Revolution,  with  all  its 
Advantages,  It  seems,  has  been  able  to  furnish  us 
with  unexceptionable  Statesmen !  for  from  that  time 
I  don't  remember  any  one  Set  of  Ministers  that  have 
not  been  heartily  rall'd  at ;  a  Period  long  enough 
one  would  think  (If  all  of  them  have  been  as  bad  as 
they  have  been  call'd)  to  make  a  People  despair  of 
ever  seeing  a  good  one  :  But  as  It  Is  possible  that 
Envy,   Prejudice,  or  Party  may  sometimes   have  a 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  6t, 

share  in  what  is  generally  thrown  upon  'em,  it  is  not 
easy  for  a  private  Man  to  know  who  is  absolutely  in 
the  right  from  what  is  said  against  them,  or  from 
what  their  Friends  or  Dependants  may  say  in  their 
Favour:  Tho'  I  can  hardly  forbear  thinking  that 
they  who  have  been  longest  rail'd  at,  must  from  that 
Circumstance  shew  in  some  sort  a  Proof  of  Capacity. 

But  to  my  History. 

It  were  almost  incredible  to  tell  you,  at  the  latter 
end  of  King  James  s  Time  (though  the  Rod  of 
Arbitrary  Power  was  always  shaking  over  us)  with 
what  Freedom  and  Contempt  the  common  People  in 
the  open  Streets  talk'd  of  his  wild  Measures  to  make 
a  whole  Protestant  Nation  Papists ;  and  yet,  in  the 
height  of  our  secure  and  wanton  Defiance  of  him,  we 
of  the  Vulgar  had  no  farther  Notion  of  any  Remedy 
for  this  Evil  than  a  satisfy'd  Presumption  that  our 
Numbers  were  too  great  to  be  master'd  by  his  mere 
Will  and  Pleasure ;  that  though  he  might  be  too 
hard  for  our  Laws,  he  would  never  be  able  to  get 
the  better  of  our  Nature  ;  and  that  to  drive  all  Eng- 
land into  Popery  and  Slavery  he  would  find  would 
be  teaching  an  old  Lion  to  dance.^ 

^  Fielding  ("Champion,"  6th  May,  1740):  "Not  to  mention  our 
Author's  Comparisons  of  himself  to  King  James,  the  Prince  of 
Orange,  Alexander  the  Great,  Charles  the  Xllth,  and  Harry  IV. 
of  France,  his  favourite  Simile  is  a  Lion,  ihws  page  39,  we  have  a 
SATISFIED  PRESUMPTION,  that  to  drive  England  into  slavery  is  like 
teaching  an  old  lion  to  dance.  1 04.  Our  new  critics  are  like 
Lions  Whelps  that  dash  down  the  Bowls  of  Milk  &-c.  besides  a 
third  Allusion  to  the  same  Animal :  and  this  brings  into  my  i\Iind 

64  THE    LIFE    OF 

But  happy  was  it  for  the  Nation  that  it  had  then 
wiser  Heads  in  it,  who  knew  how  to  lead  a  People 
so  dispos'd  into  Measures  for  the  Publick  Preser- 

Here  I  cannot  help  reflecting  on  the  very  different 
Deliverances  England  met  with  at  this  Time  and  in 
the  very  same  Year  of  the  Century  before  :  Then  (in 
1588)  under  a  glorious  Princess,  who  had  at  heart 
the  Good  and  Happiness  of  her  People,  we  scatter'd 
and  destroy'd  the  most  formidable  Navy  of  Invaders 
that  ever  cover'd  the  Seas  :  And  now  (in  1688) 
under  a  Prince  who  had  alienated  the  Hearts  of  his 
People  by  his  absolute  Measures  to  oppress  them,  a 
foreign  Power  is  receiv'd  with  open  Arms  in  defence 
of  our  Laws,  Liberties,  and  Religion,  which  our 
native  Prince  had  invaded !  How  widely  different 
were  these  two  Monarchs  in  their  Sentiments  of 
Glory  !  But,  Tantum  religio  potziit  suadere  ma- 
lorum.  ^ 

When  we  consider  in  what  height  of  the  Nation's 
Prosperity  the  Successor  of  Queen  Elizabeth  came 
to  this  Throne,  it  seems  amazing  that  such  a  Pile  of 
English  Fame  and  Glory,  which  her  skilful  Admini- 

a  Story  which  I  once  heard  from  Booth,  that  our  Biographer  had, 
in  one  of  his  Plays  in  a  Local  Simile,  introduced  this  generous 
Least  in  some  Island  or  Country  where  Lions  did  not  grow ;  of 
which  being  informed  by  the  learned  Booths  the  Biographer  re- 
plied, Prithee  tell  me  then,  where  there  is  a  Lion,  for  God's 
Curse,  if  there  be  a  Lion  in  Europe,  Asia,  Africa,  or  America,  / 
will  not  lose  my  simile. " 
^  Lucretius,  i.  102. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  65 

stration  had  erected,  should  in  every  following 
Reign  down  to  the  Revolution  so  unhappily  moulder 
away  in  one  continual  Gradation  of  Political  Errors  : 
All  which  must  have  been  avoided,  if  the  plain  Rule 
which  that  wise  Princess  left  behind  her  had  been 
observed,  viz.  That  the  Love  of  her  People  was  the 
surest  Support  of  her  ThT'one.  This  was  the  Prin- 
ciple by  which  she  so  happily  govern'd  herself  and 
those  she  had  the  Care  of.  In  this  she  found 
Strength  to  combat  and  struggle  thro'  more  Diffi- 
culties and  dangerous  Conspiracies  than  ever  English 
Monarch  had  to  cope  with.  At  the  same  time  that 
she  profess'd  to  desire  the  People's  Love,  she  took 
care  that  her  Actions  shou'd  deserve  it,  without  the 
least  Abatement  of  her  Prerogative  ;  the  Terror  of 
which  she  so  artfully  covered  that  she  sometimes 
seem'd  to  flatter  those  she  was  determin'd  should 
obey.  If  the  four  following  Princes  had  exercis'd 
their  Regal  Authority  with  so  visible  a  Regard  to 
the  Publick  Welfare,  it  were  hard  to  knov/  whether 
the  People  of  England  might  have  ever  complain'd 
of  them,  or  even  felt  the  want  of  that  Liberty  they 
now  so  happily  enjoy.  'Tis  true  that  before  her 
Time  our  Ancestors  had  many  successful  Contests 
with  their  Sovereigns  for  their  ancient  Right  and 
Claim  to  it ;  yet  what  did  those  Successes  amount 
to  ?  little  more  than  a  Declaration  that  there  was 
such  a  Right  in  being  ;  but  who  ever  saw  it  enjoy'd  ? 
Did  not  the  Actions  of  almost  every  succeeding 
Reign   shew   there   were    still    so    many    Doors    of 

66  THE    LIFE    OF 

Oppression  left  open  to  the  Prerogative  that  (what- 
ever Value  our  most  eloquent  Legislators  may  have 
set  upon  those  ancient  Liberties)  I  doubt  it  will  be 
difficult  to  fix  the  Period  of  their  having  a  real  Being 
before  the  Revolution  :  Or  if  there  ever  was  an  elder 
Period  of  our  unmolested  enjoying  them,  I  own  my 
poor  Judgment  is  at  a  loss  where  to  place  it.  I  will 
boldly  say  then,  it  is  to  the  Revolution  only  we  owe 
the  full  Possession  of  what,  'till  then,  we  never  had 
more  than  a  perpetually  contested  Right  to :  And, 
from  thence,  from  the  Revolution  it  is  that  the  Pro- 
testant Successors  of  King  William  have  found  their 
Paternal  Care  and  Maintenance  of  that  Right  has 
been  the  surest  Basis  of  their  Glory.^ 

These,  Sir,  are  a  few  of  my  Political  Notions,  which 
I  have  ventur'd  to  expose  that  you  may  see  what 
sort  of  an  English  Subject  I  am ;  how  wise  or  weak 
they  may  have  shewn  me  is  not  my  Concern  ;  let 
the  weight  of  these  Matters  have  drawn  me  never  so 
far  out  of  my  Depth,  I  still  flatter  myself  that  I  have 
kept  a  simple,  honest  Head  above  Water.  And  it 
is  a  solid  Comfort  to  me  to  consider  that  how  in- 
significant soever  my  Life  was  at  the  Revolution,  it 
had  still  the  g-ood  Fortune  to  make  one  amonsf  the 
many  who  brought  it  about ;  and  that  I  now,  with 

^  John  Dennis,  in  an  advertisement  to  "  The  Invader  of  his 
Country,"  1720,  says,  "'tis  as  easy  for  Mr.  Cibber  at  this  time  of 
Day  to  make  a  Bounce  with  his  Loyalty,  as  'tis  for  a  Bully  at  Sea, 
who  had  lain  hid  in  the  Hold  all  the  time  of  the  Fight,  to  come 
up  and  swagger  upon  the  Deck  after  the  Danger  is  over." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  67 

my  Cosevals,  as  well  as  with  the  Millions  since  born, 
enjoy  the  happy  Effects  of  it. 

But  I  must  now  let  you  see  how  my  particular 
Fortune  went  forward  with  this  Change  in  the 
Government ;  of  which  I  shall  not  pretend  to  give 
you  any  farther  Account  than  what  my  simple  Eyes 
saw  of  it. 

We  had  not  been  many  Days  at  Nottingham  before 

we  heard  that  the  Prince  of  Denmark,  with  some 

other  great  Persons,  were  gone  off  from  the  King  to 

the  Prince  of  Orange,  and  that  the  Princess  Anne, 

fearinof  the  Kine  her  Father's  Resentment  might  fall 

upon  her  for  her  Consort's  Revolt,  had  withdrawn 

her  self  in  the  Night  from  London,  and  was  then 

within    half  a    Days   Journey  of  Nottingham ;    on 

which  very  Morning  we  were  suddenly  alarm'd  with 

the  News  that  two  thousand  of  the  King's  Dragoons 

were  in  close  pursuit  to  bring  her  back  Prisoner  to 

London :  But  this  Alarm  it  seems  was  all  Stratagem, 

and  was  but  a  part  of  that  general  Terror  which  was 

thrown  into  many  other  Places  about  the  Kingdom 

at  the  same  time,  with  design  to  animate  and  unite 

the  People  in  their  common  defence ;  it  being  then 

given  out  that  the  Irish  were  every  where  at  our 

Heels  to  cut  off  all  the  Protestants  within  the  Reach 

of  their  Fury.     In  this  Alarm  our  Troops  scrambled 

to  Arms  in  as  much  Order  as  their  Consternation 

would  admit  of,  when,  having  advanc'd  some  few 

Miles  on  the  London  Road,  they  met  the  Princess  in 

a  Coach,  attended  only  by  the  Lady  Churchill  (now 

68  THE    LIFE    OF 

Dutchess  Dowager  of  Marlborough)  and  the  Lady 
Fitzhardiiig,  whom  they  conducted  into  Nottingham 
through  the  Acclamations  of  the  People  :  The  same 
Night  all  the  Noblemen  and  the  other  Persons  of 
Distinction  then  in  Arms  had  the  Honour  to  sup 
at  her  Royal  Highness's  Table ;  which  was  then  fur- 
nish'd  (as  all  her  necessary  Accommodations  were) 
by  the  Care  and  at  the  Charge  of  the  Lord  Devon- 
shire. At  this  Entertainment,  of  which  I  was  a 
Spectator,  something  very  particular  surpriz'd  me  : 
The  noble  Guests  at  the  Table  happening  to  be 
more  in  number  than  Attendants  out  of  Liveries 
could  be  found  for,  I  being  well  known  in  the  Lord 
Devonshire's  Family,  was  desired  by  his  Lordship's 
Maitre  d' Hotel  to  assist  at  it :  The  Post  assign'd  me 
was  to  observe  what  the  Lady  Churchill  might  call 
for.  Being  so  near  the  Table,  you  may  naturally 
ask  me  what  I  might  have  heard  to  have  pass'd  in 
Conversation  at  it  ?  which  I  should  certainly  tell  you 
had  I  attended  to  above  two  Words  that  were  utter'd 
there,  and  those  were,  Some  Wine  and  Water.  These 
I  remember  came  distinguish'd  and  observ'd  to  my 
Ear,  because  they  came  from  the  fair  Guest  whom  I 
took  such  Pleasure  to  wait  on:  Except  at  that  single 
Sound,  all  my  Senses  were  collected  into  my  Eyes, 
which  during  the  whole  Entertainment  wanted  no 
better  Amusement,  than  of  stealing  now  and  then 
the  Delight  of  gazing  on  the  fair  Object  so  near  me : 
If  so  clear  an  Emanation  of  Beauty,  such  a  command- 
ing Grace  of  Aspect  struck  me  into  a  Regard  that 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  69 

had  something  softer  than  the  most  profound  Respect 
in  it,  I  cannot  see  why  I  may  not  without  Offence 
remember  it ;  since  Beauty,  Hke  the  Sun,  must  some- 
times lose  its  Power  to  chuse,  and  shine  into  equal 
Warmth  the  Peasant  and  the  Courtier.^  Now  to 
give  you,  Sir,  a  farther  Proof  of  how  good  a  Taste 
my  first  hopeful  Entrance  into  Manhood  set  out 
with,  I  remember  above  twenty  Years  after,  when 
the  same  Lady  had  given  the  World  four  of  the 
loveliest  Daughters  that  ever  were  gaz'd  on,  even 
after  they  were  all  nobly  married,  and  were  become 
the  reigning  Toasts  of  every  Party  of  Pleasure,  their 
still  lovely  Mother  had  at  the  same  time  her  Votaries, 
and  her  Health  very  often  took  the  Lead  in  those 
involuntary  Triumphs  of  Beauty.  However  pre- 
sumptuous or  impertinent  these  Thoughts  might 
have  appear'd  at  my  first  entertaining  them,  why 
may  I  not  hope  that  my  having  kept  them  decently 
secret  for  full  fifty  Years  may  be  now  a  good  round 
Plea  for  their  Pardon  ?  Were  I  now  qualify'd  to 
say  more  of  this  celebrated  Lady,  I  should  conclude 
it  thus :  That  she  has  liv'd  (to  all  Appearance)  a 
peculiar  Favourite  of  Providence  ;  that  few  Examples 
can  parallel  the  Profusion  of  Blessings  which  have 
attended  so  long  a  Life  of  Felicity.     A  Person  so 

^  "Champion,"  29th  April,  1740  :  **  When  \npage  42,  we  read, 
Beauty  Shines  into  equal  Warmth  the  Peasant  and  the  Courtier, 
do  we  not  know  what  he  means  though  he  hath  made  a  Verb 
active  of  Shine,  as  in  Page  117,  he  hath  of  Regret,  nothitig  could 
more  painful/y  regret  a  judicious  Spectator ^ 

70  THE    LIFE    OF 

attractive !  a  Husband  so  memorably  great !  an  Off- 
spring so  beautiful !  a  Fortune  so  immense !  and  a 
Title  which  (when  Royal  Favour  had  no  higher  to 
bestow)  she  only  could  receive  from  the  Author  of 
Nature ;  a  great  Grandmother  without  grey  Hairs ! 
These  are  such  consummate  Indulgences  that  we 
might  think  Heaven  has  center'd  them  all  in  one 
Person,  to  let  us  see  how  far,  with  a  lively  Under- 
standing, the  full  Possession  of  them  could  contribute 
to  human  Happiness. — I  now  return  to  our  Military 

From  Nottmgham  our  Troops  march'd  to  Oxford ; 
through  every  Town  we  pass'd  the  People  came  out, 
in  some  sort  of  Order,  with  such  rural  and  rusty 
Weapons  as  they  had,  to  meet  us,  in  Acclamations  of 
Welcome  and  good  Wishes.  This  I  thought  pro- 
mis'd  a  favourable  End  of  our  Civil  War,  when  the 
Nation  seem'd  so  willing  to  be  all  of  a  Side  !  At 
Oxford  the  Prince  and  Princess  of  Denmark  met  for 
the  first  time  after  their  late  Separation,  and  had  all 
possible  Honours  paid  them  by  the  University. 
Here  we  rested  in  quiet  Quarters  for  several  Weeks, 
till  the  Flight  of  YJing  James  into  France ;  when  the 
Nation  being  left  to  take  care  of  it  self,  the  only 
Security  that  could  be  found  for  it  was  to  advance 
the  Prince  and  Princess  of  Orange  to  the  vacant 
Throne.  The  publick  Tranquillity  being  now  settled, 
our  Forces  were  remanded  back  to  Nottingham. 
Here  all  our  Officers  who  had  commanded  them 
from  their  first  Risincj  receiv'd  Commissions  to  con- 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  7 1 

firm  them  in  their  several  Posts  ;  and  at  the  same 
time  such  private  Men  as  chose  to  return  to  their 
proper  Business  or  Habitations  were  offer'd  their 
Discharges.  Among  the  small  number  of  those  who 
receiv'd  them,  I  was  one  ;  for  not  hearing  that  my 
Name  was  in  any  of  these  new  Commissions,  I 
thought  it  time  for  me  to  take  my  leave  of  Ambition, 
as  Ambition  had  before  seduc'd  me  from  the  imaei- 
nary  Honours  of  the  Gown,  and  therefore  resolv'd 
to  hunt  my  Fortune  in  some  other  Field/ 

^  One  of  the  commonest  imputations  made  against  Gibber  was 
that  he  was  of  a  cowardly  temper.  In  "  Common  Sense "  for 
nth  June,  1737,  a  paper  attributed  to  Lord  Chesterfield,  there  is  a 
dissertation  on  kicking  as  a  humorous  incident  on  the  stage.  The 
writer  adds  :  "  Of  all  the  Comedians  who  have  appeared  upon  the 
Stage  within  my  Memory,  no  one  has  taking  {sic)  a  Kicking  with  so 
much  Humour  as  our  present  most  excellent  Laureat,  and  I  am 
informed  his  Son  does  not  fall  much  short  of  him  in  this  Excel- 
lence ;  I  am  very  glad  of  it,  for  as  1  have  a  Kindness  for  the 
young  Man,  I  hope  to  see  him  as  well  kick'd  as  his  Father  was 
before  him." 

I  confess  that  I  am  not  quite  sure  how  far  this  sentence  is 
ironically  meant,  but  Bellchambers  refers  to  it  as  conveying  a 
serious  accusation  of  cowardice.  He  also  quotes  from  Davies 
("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  487),  who  relates,  on  the  authority  of  Victor, 
that  Gibber,  having  reduced  Bickerstaffe's  salary  by  one-half,  was 
waited  upon  by  that  actor,  who  "  flatly  told  him,  that  as  he  could 
not  subsist  on  the  small  sum  to  which  he  had  reduced  his  salary, 
he  must  call  the  author  of  his  distress  to  an  account,  for  that  it 
would  be  easier  for  him  to  lose  his  life  than  to  starve.  The 
affrighted  Gibber  told  him,  he  should  receive  an  answer  from  him 
on  Saturday  next.  Bickerstaffe  found,  on  that  day,  his  usual  in- 
come was  continued."  This  story  rests  only  on  Victor's  authority, 
but  is,  of  course,  not  improbable.  There  is  also  a  vague  report 
that   Gay,   in   revenge   for   Gibber's    banter   of  "  Three    Hours 


72  THE    LIFE   OF 

From  N'ottingkain  I  again  return'd  to  my  Father 
at  Chattsworth,  where  I  staid  till  my  Lord  came 
down,  with  the  new  Honours  ^  of  Lord  Steward  of  his 
Majesty's  Houshold  and  Knight  of  the  Garter!  a 
noble  turn  of  Fortune!  and  a  deep  Stake  he  had 
play'd  for !  which  calls  to  my  Memory  a  Story  we 
had  then  in  the  Family,  which  though  too  light  for 
our  graver  Historians  notice,  may  be  of  weight 
enough  for  my  humble  Memoirs.  This  noble  Lord 
being  in  the  Presence-Chamber  in  King  James  s 
time,  and  known  to  be  no  Friend  to  the  Measures 
of  his  Administration,  a  certain  Person  in  favour 
there,  and  desirous  to  be  more  so,  took  occasion  to 
tread  rudely  upon  his  Lordship's  Foot,  which  was 
return'd  with  a  sudden  Blow  upon  the  Spot :  For 
this  Misdemeanour  his  Lordship  was  fin'd  thirty 
thousand  Pounds  ;  but  I  think  had  some  time  allow'd 
him  for  the  Payment.'^  In  the  Summer  preceding  the 
Revolution,  when  his  Lordship  was  retir'd  to  Chatts- 
worth, and  had  been  there  deeply  engag'd  with  other 
Noblemen  in  the  Measures  which  soon  after  brought 
it  to  bear.  King  Ja7nes  sent  a  Person  down  to  him 
with  Offers  to  mitigate  his  Fine  upon  Conditions  of 
ready  Payment,  to  which  his  Lordship  reply'd,  That 
if  his   Majesty  pleas'd  to  allow  him  a  little  longer 

after  Marriage,"  personally  chastised  him,  but  I  know  no  good 
authority  for  the  story. 

'  Gibber  (ist  ed.)  wrote  :  "new  Honours  of  Duke  of  Devon- 
shire, Lord  Steward,"  &c.     He  corrected  his  blunder  in  2nd  ed. 

2  See  Macaulay  ("History,"  1858,  vol.  ii.  p.  251). 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  7 


time,  he  would  rather  chuse  to  play  double  or  quit 
with  him  :  The  time  of  the  intended  Risingf  beinof 
then  so  near  at  hand,  the  Demand,  it  seems,  came 
too  late  for  a  more  serious  Answer. 

However  low  my  Pretensions  to  Preferment  were 
at  this  time,  my  Father  thought  that  a  little  Court- 
Favour  added  to  them  might  give  him  a  Chance  for 
saving  the  Expence  of  maintaining  me,  as  he  had 
intended,  at  the  University :  He  therefore  order'd 
me  to  draw  up  a  Petition  to  the  Duke,  and,  to  give 
it  some  Air  of  Merit,  to  put  it  into  Latin,  the  Prayer 
of  which  was.  That  his  Grace  would  be  pleas'd  to  do 
something  (I  really  forget  what)  forme. How- 
ever the  Duke,  upon  receiving  it,  was  so  good  as  to 
desire  my  Father  would  send  me  to  London  in  the 
Winter,  where  he  would  consider  of  some  Provision 
for  me.  It  might,  indeed,  well  require  time  to  con- 
sider it ;  for  I  believe  it  was  then  harder  to  know 
what  I  was  really  fit  for,  than  to  have  got  me  any 
thing  I  was  not  fit  for  :  However,  to  London  I  came, 
where  I  enter'd  into  my  first  State  of  Attendance 
and  Dependance  for  about  five  Months,  till  the 
February  following.  But  alas  !  in  my  Intervals  of 
Leisure,  by  frequently  seeing  Plays,  my  wise  Head 
was  turn'd  to  higher  Views,  I  saw  no  Joy  in  any 
other  Life  than  that  of  an  Actor,  so  that  (as  before, 
when  a  Candidate  at  Winchester)  I  was  even  afraid 
of  succeeding  to  the  Preferment  I  sought  for  :  'Twas 
on  the  Stage  alone  I  had  form'd  a  Happiness  prefer- 
able to  all  that  Camps  or  Courts  could  offer  me  !  and 

74  THE    LIFE    OF 

there  was  I  determin'd,  let  Father  and  Mother  take 
it  as  they  pleas'd,  to  fix  my  non  tiltra}  Here  I 
think  my  self  oblig'd,  in  respect  to  the  Honour  of  that 
noble  Lord,  to  acknowledge  that  I  believe  his  real 
Intentions  to  do  well  for  me  were  prevented  by  my 
own  inconsiderate  Folly ;  so  that  if  my  Life  did  not 
then  take  a  more  laudable  Turn,  I  have  no  one  but 
my  self  to  reproach  for  it ;  for  I  was  credibly  inform'd 
by  the  Gentlemen  of  his  Houshold,  that  his  Grace 
had,  in  their  hearing,  talk'd  of  recommending  me  to 
the  Lord  Shrewsbury,  then  Secretary  of  State,  for 
the  first  proper  Vacancy  in  that  Office.  But  the 
distant  Hope  of  a  Reversion  was  too  cold  a  Tempta- 
tion for  a  Spirit  impatient  as  mine,  that  wanted  im- 
mediate Possession  of  what  my  Heart  was  so  diffe- 
rently set  upon.  The  Allurements  of  a  Theatre  are 
still  so  strong  in  my  Memory,  that  perhaps  few, 
except  those  who  have  felt  them,  can  conceive  :  And 
I  am  yet  so  far  willing  to  excuse  my  Folly,  that  I  am 
convinc'd,  were  it  possible  to  take  off  that  Disgrace 
and  Prejudice  which  Custom  has  thrown  upon  the 
Profession  of  an  Actor,  many  a  well-born  younger 
Brother  and  Beauty  of  low  Fortune  would  gladly 
have  adorn'd  the  Theatre,  who  by  their  not  being 
able  to  brook  such   Dishonour  to  their  Birth,  have 

*  Davies  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  444)  says  :  "  Gibber  and  Ver- 
bruggen  were  two  dissipated  young  fellows,  who  determined,  in 
opposition  to  the  advice  of  friends,  to  become  great  actors.  Much 
about  the  same  time,  they  were  constant  attendants  upon  Downes, 
the  prompter  of  Drury-Lane,  in  expectation  of  employment." 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  75 

pass'd    away   their   Lives   decently   unheeded    and 

Many  Years  ago,  when  I  was  first  in  the  Menage- 
ment  of  the  Theatre,  I  remember  a  strong  Instance, 
which  will  shew  you  what  degree  of  Ignominy  the 
Profession  of  an  Actor  was  then  held  at. — A  Lady, 
with  a  real  Title,  whose  female  Indiscretions  had 
occasion'd  her  Family  to  abandon  her,  being  willing, 
in  her  Distress,  to  make  an  honest  Penny  of  what 
Beauty  she  had  left,  desired  to  be  admitted  as  an 
Actress  ;  when  before  she  could  receive  our  Answer, 
a  Gentleman  (probably  by  her  Relation's  Permission) 
advis'd  us  not  to  entertain  her,  for  Reasons  easy  to 
be  guess'd.  You  may  imagine  we  cou'd  not  be  so 
blind  to  our  Interest  as  to  make  an  honourable 
Family  our  unnecessary  Enemies  by  not  taking  his 
Advice ;  which  the  Lady,  too,  being  sensible  of,  saw 
the  Affair  had  its  Difficulties,  and  therefore  pursu'd 
it  no  farther.  Now,  is  it  not  hard  that  it  should 
be  a  doubt  whether  this  Lady's  Condition  or  ours 
were  the  more  melancholy  ?  For  here  you  find  her 
honest  Endeavour  to  get  Bread  from  the  Stage  was 
look'd  upon  as  an  Addition  of  new  Scandal  to  her 
former  Dishonour !  so  that  I  am  afraid,  according  to 
this  way  of  thinking,  had  the  same  Lady  stoop'd  to 
have  sold  Patches  and  Pomatum  in  a  Band-box 
from  Door  to  Door,  she  might  in  that  Occupation 
have  starv'd  with  less  Infamy  than  had  she  reliev'd 
her  Necessities  by  being  famous  on  the  Theatre. 
Whether  this  Prejudice  may  have  arisen  from  the 

76  THE    LIFE    OF 

Abuses  that  so  often  have  crept  in  upon  the  Stage, 
I  am  not  clear  in ;  tho'  when  that  is  grossly  the 
Case,  I  will  allow  there  ought  to  be  no  Limits  set  to 
the  Contempt  of  it ;  yet  in  its  lowest  Condition  in 
my  time,  methinks  there  could  have  been  no  Pretence 
of  preferring  the  Band-box  to  the  Buskin.  But  this 
severe  Opinion,  whether  merited  or  not,  is  not  the 
greatest  Distress  that  this  Profession  is  liable  to. 

I  shall  now  give  you  another  Anecdote,  quite  the 
reverse  of  what  I  have  instanc'd,  wherein  you  will 
see  an  Actress  as  hardly  us'd  for  an  Act  of  Modesty 
(which  without  being  a  Prude,  a  Woman,  even  upon 
the  Stage,  may  sometimes  think  it  necessary  not  to 
throw  off)  This  too  I  am  forc'd  to  premise,  that  the 
Truth  of  what  I  am  going  to  tell  you  may  not  be 
sneer'd  at  before  it  be  known.  About  the  Year  1 71 7, 
a  young  Actress  of  a  desirable  Person,  sitting  in  an 
upper  Box  at  the  Opera,  a  military  Gentleman 
thought  this  a  proper  Opportunity  to  secure  a  little 
Conversation  with  her,  the  Particulars  of  which  were 
probably  no  more  worth  repeating  than  it  seems  the 
Damoiselle  then  thought  them  worth  listening  to ; 
for,  notwithstanding  the  fine  Things  he  said  to  her, 
she  rather  chose  to  give  the  Musick  the  Preference 
of  her  Attention  :  This  Indifference  was  so  offensive 
to  his  high  Heart,  that  he  began  to  change  the 
Tender  into  the  Terrible,  and,  in  short,  proceeded  at 
last  to  treat  her  in  a  Style  too  grosly  insulting  for 
the  meanest  Female  Ear  to  endure  unresented : 
Upon  which,  being  beaten  too  far  out  of  her  Discre- 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  77 

tion,  she  turn'd  hastily  upon  him  with  an  angry  Look, 
and  a  Reply  which  seem'd  to  set  his  Merit  in  so 
low  a  Regard,  that  he  thought  himself  oblig'd  in 
Honour  to  take  his  time  to  resent  it :  This  was  the 
full  Extent  of  her  Crime,  which  his  Glory  delay'd  no 
longer  to  punish  than  'till  the  next  time  she  was  to 
appear  upon  the  Stage  :  There,  in  one  of  her  best 
Parts,  wherein  she  drew  a  favourable  Regard  and 
Approbation  from  the  Audience,  he,  dispensing  with 
the  Respect  which  some  People  think  due  to  a  polite 
Assembly,  began  to  interrupt  her  Performance  with 
such  loud  and  various  Notes  of  Mockery,  as  other 
young  Men  of  Honour  in  the  same  Place  have  some- 
times made  themselves  undauntedly  merry  with : 
Thus,  deaf  to  all  Murmurs  or  Entreaties  of  those 
about  him,  he  pursued  his  Point,  even  to  throwing 
near  her  such  Trash  as  no  Person  can  be  suppos'd 
to  carry  about  him  unless  to  use  on  so  particular  an 

A  Gentleman  then  behind  the  Scenes,  being 
shock'd  at  his  unmanly  Behaviour,  was  warm  enough 
to  say,  That  no  Man  but  a  Fool  or  a  Bully  cou'd  be 
capable  of  insulting  an  Audience  or  a  Woman  in  so 
monstrous  a  manner.  The  former  valiant  Gentle- 
man, to  whose  Ear  the  Words  were  soon  brought  by 
his  Spies,  whom  he  had  plac'd  behind  the  Scenes  to 
observe  how  the  Action  was  taken  there,  came  imme- 
diately from  the  Pit  in  a  Heat,  and  demanded  to 
know  of  the  Author  of  those  Words  if  he  was  the 
Person  that  spoke  them  ?  to  which  he  calmly  reply'd. 

yS  THE    LIFE    OF 

That  though  he  had  never  seen  him  before,  yet, 
since  he  seem'd  so  earnest  to  be  satisfy'd,  he  would 
do  him  the  favour  to  own,  That  indeed  the  Words 
were  his,  and  that  they  would  be  the  last  Words  he 
should  chuse  to  deny,  whoever  they  might  fall  upon. 
To  conclude,  their  Dispute  was  ended  the  next 
Morning  in  Hyde-Park,  where  the  determin'd  Com- 
batant who  first  ask'd  for  Satisfaction  was  oblig'd 
afterwards  to  ask  his  Life  too ;  whether  he  mended 
it  or  not,  I  have  not  yet  heard  ;  but  his  Antagonist  in 
a  few  Years  after  died  in  one  of  the  principal  Posts 
of  the  Government/ 

Now,  though  I  have  sometimes  known  these  gal- 
lant Insulters  of  Audiences  draw  themselves  into 
Scrapes  which  they  have  less  honourably  got  out  of, 
yet,  alas !  what  has  that  avail'd  ?  This  generous 
publick-spirited  Method  of  silencing  a  few  was  but 
repelling  the  Disease  in  one  Part  to  make  it  break 
out  in  another :  All  Endeavours  at  Protection  are 
new  Provocations  to  those  who  pride  themselves  in 
pushing  their  Courage  to  a  Defiance  of  Humanity. 
Even  when  a  Royal  Resentment  has  shewn  itself  in 
the  behalf  of  an  injur'd  Actor,  it  has  been  unable  to 
defend  him  from  farther  Insults!  an  Instance  of 
which  happen'd  in  the  late  King  James  Sy  time.  Mr. 
Smith"^  {whose  Character  as  a  Gentleman  could  have 

^  "  The  Laureat "  states  that  Miss  Santlow  (afterwards  Mrs. 
Barton  Booth)  was  the  actress  referred  to ;  that  Captain  Montague 
was  her  assailant,  and  Mr.  Secretary  Craggs  her  defender. 

~  See  memoir  of  WilHam  Smith  at  end  of  second  volume. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  79 

been  no  way  impeach'd  had  he  not  degraded  it  by 
being  a  celebrated  Actor)  had  the  Misfortune,  in  a 
Dispute  with  a  Gentleman  behind  the  Scenes,  to  re- 
ceive a  Blow  from  him  :  The  same  Niofht  an  Account 
of  this  Action  was  carry 'd  to  the  King,  to  whom  the 
Gentleman  was  represented  so  grosly  in  the  wrong, 
that  the  next  Day  his  Majesty  sent  to  forbid  him  the 
Court  upon  it.  This  Indignity  cast  upon  a  Gentle- 
man only  for  having  maltreated  a  Player,  was  look'd 
upon  as  the  Concern  of  every  Gentleman  ;  and  a 
Party  was  soon  form'd  to  assert  and  vindicate  their 
Honour,  by  humbling  this  favour'd  Actor,  whose 
slight  Injury  had  been  judg'd  equal  to  so  severe  a 
Notice.  Accordingly,  the  next  time  Smith  acted  he 
was  receiv'd  with  a  Chorus  of  Cat-calls,  that  soon 
convinc'd  him  he  should  not  be  suffer'd  to  proceed 
in  his  Part ;  upon  which,  without  the  least  Discom- 
posure, he  order'd  the  Curtain  to  be  dropp'd  ;  and, 
having  a  competent  Fortune  of  his  own,  thought  the 
Conditions  of  adding  to  it  by  his  remaining  upon  the 
Stage  were  too  dear,  and  from  that  Day  entirely 
quitted  it.^  I  shall  make  no  Observation  upon  the 
King's  Resentment,  or  on  that  of  his  good  Sub- 
jects ;  how  far  either  was  or  was  not  right,  is  not  the 
Point  I  dispute  for  :  Be  that  as  it  may,  the  unhappy 
Condition  of  the  Actor  was  so  far  from  being  reliev'd 
by  this  Royal  Interposition  in  his  favour,  that  it  was 
the  worse  for  it. 

While  these  sort  of  real  Distresses  on  the  Staee 
'  See  memoir. 

8o  THE    LIFE    OF 

are  so  unavoidable,  it  is  no  wonder  that  young 
People  of  Sense  (though  of  low  Fortune)  should  be 
so  rarely  found  to  supply  a  Succession  of  good  Actors. 
Why  then  may  we  not,  in  some  measure,  impute  the 
Scarcity  of  them  to  the  wanton  Inhumanity  of  those 
Spectators,  who  have  made  it  so  terribly  mean  to  ap- 
pear there  ?  Were  there  no  ground  for  this  Ques- 
tion, where  could  be  the  Disgrace  of  entring  into  a 
Society  whose  Institution,  when  not  abus'd,  is  a  de- 
lightful School  of  Morality ;  and  where  to  excel 
requires  as  ample  Endowments  of  Nature  as  any  one 
Profession  (that  of  holy  Institution  excepted)  what- 
soever ?     But,  alas  !  as  Shakespear  says, 

Where  s  that  Palace,  whereiitto,  sometimes 
Foul  things  intj'ude  not  f  ^ 

Look  into  St.  Peter's  at  Rome,  and  see  what  a 
profitable  Farce  is  made  of  Religion  there  !  Why 
then  is  an  Actor  more  blemish'd  than  a  Cardinal  ? 
While  the  Excellence  of  the  one  arises  from  his 
innocently  seeming  what  he  is  not,  and  the  Emi- 
nence of  the  other  from  the  most  impious  Fallacies 
that  can  be  impos'd  upon  human  Understanding  ?  If 
the  best  things,  therefore,  are  most  liable  to  Corrup- 
tion, the  Corruption  of  the  Theatre  is  no  Disproof 
of  its  innate  and  primitive  Utility. 

In  this  Light,  therefore,  all  the  Abuses  of  the 
Stage,  all  the  low,  loose,  or  immoral  Supplements  to 

^  "  As  where's  that  palace  whereinto  foul  things 

Sometimes  intrude  not  ?  " — "  Othello,"  act  iii.  sc.  3. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  8 1 

wit,  whether  in  making  Virtue  'ridiculous  or  Vice 
agreeable,  or  in  the  decorated  Nonsense  and  Absur- 
dities of  Pantomimical  Trumpery,  I  give  up  to  the 
Contempt  of  every  sensible  Spectator,  as  so  much 
rank  Theatrical  Popery.  But  cannot  still  allow  these 
Enormities  to  impeach  the  Profession,  while  they  are 
so  palpably  owing  to  the  deprav'd  Taste  of  the  Mul- 
titude. While  Vice  and  Farcical  Folly  are  the 
most  profitable  Commodities,  why  should  we  wonder 
that,  time  out  of  mind,  the  poor  Comedian,  when  real 
Wit  would  bear  no  Price,  should  deal  in  what  would 
bring  him  most  ready  Money  ?  But  this,  you  will 
say,    is    making  the  Stage  a  Nursery  of  Vice  and 

Folly,  or  at  least  keeping  an  open  Shop  for  It. 

I  grant  it :  But  who  do  you  expect  should  reform 
it  ?  The  Actors  ?  Why  so  ?  If  People  are  permitted 
to  buy  it  without  blushing,  the  Theatrical  Merchant 
seems  to  have  an  equal  Right  to  the  Liberty  of  sell- 
ing it  without  Reproach.  That  this  Evil  wants  a 
Remedy  is  not  to  be  contested  ;  nor  can  it  be  denied 
that  the  Theatre  is  as  capable  of  being  preserv'd  by 
a  Reformation  as  Matters  of  more  Importance; 
which,  for  the  Honour  of  our  National  Taste,  I  could 
wish  were  attempted  ;  and  then,  if  it  could  not  sub- 
sist under  decent  Regulations,  by  not  being  per- 
mitted to  present  any  thing  there  but  what  were 
worthy  to  be  there,  it  would  be  time  enough  to  con- 
sider, whether  it  were  necessary  to  let  it  totally  fall, 
or  effectually  support  it. 

Notwithstanding  all  my  best   Endeavours  to  re- 

82  THE    LIFE    OF 

commend  the  Profession  of  an  Actor  to  a  more 
general  Favour,  I  doubt,  while  it  is  liable  to  such 
Corruptions,  and  the  Actor  himself  to  such  unlimited 
Insults  as  I  have  already  mention'd,  I  doubt,  I 
say,  we  must  still  leave  him  a-drift,  with  his  intrinsick 
Merit,  to  ride  out  the  Storm  as  well  as  he  is  able. 

However,  let  us  now  turn  to  the  other  side  of  this 
Account,  and  see  what  Advantages  stand  there  to 
balance  the  Misfortunes  I  have  laid  before  you.  There 
we  shall  still  find  some  valuable  Articles  of  Credit, 
that  sometimes  overpay  his  incidental  Disgraces. 

First,  if  he  has  Sense,  he  will  consider  that  as 
these  Indignities  are  seldom  or  never  offer'd  him  by 
People  that  are  remarkable  for  any  one  good  Quality, 
he  ought  not  to  lay  them  too  close  to  his  Heart :  He 
will  know  too,  that  when  Malice,  Envy,  or  a  brutal 
Nature,  can  securely  hide  or  fence  themselves  in  a 
Multitude,  Virtue,  Merit,  Innocence,  and  even  sove- 
reign Superiority,  have  been,  and  must  be  equally 
liable  to  their  Insults;  that  therefore,  when  they  fall 
upon  him  in  the  same  manner,  his  intrinsick  Value 
cannot  be  diminish'd  by  them  :  On  the  contrary,  if, 
with  a  decent  and  unruffled  Temper,  he  lets  them 
pass,  the  Disgrace  will  return  upon  his  Aggressor, 
and  perhaps  warm  the  generous  Spectator  into  a  Par- 
tiality in  his  Favour. 

That  while  he  is  conscious.  That,  as  an  Actor,  he 
must  be  always  in  the  Hands  of  Injustice,  it  does 
him  at  least  this  involuntary  Good,  that  it  keeps  him 
in  a  settled  Resolution  to  avoid  all  Occasions  of  pro- 
voking it,  or  of  even  offending  the  lowest  Enemy, 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  83 

who,  at  the  Expence  of  a  ShilHng,  may  pubHckly 
revenge  it. 

That,  if  he  excells  on  the  Stage,  and  is  irreproach- 
able in  his  Personal  Morals  and  Behaviour,  his  Pro- 
fession is  so  far  from  being  an  Impediment,  that  it 
will  be  oftner  a  just  Reason  for  his  being  receiv'd 
among  People  of  condition  with  Favour ;  and  some- 
times with  a  more  social  Distinction,  than  the  best, 
though  more  profitable  Trade  he  might  have  follow'd, 
could  have  recommended  him  to. 

That  this  is  a  Happiness  to  which  several  Actors 
within  my  Memory,  as  Bctterton,  Smithy  Montfort, 
Captain  Griffi^i^  and  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  (yet  living) 
have  arriv'd  at ;  to  which  I   may  add  the  late  cele- 

1  Captain  Griffin  was,  no  doubt,  the  Griffin  who  is  mentioned 
by  Downes  as  entering  the  King's  Company  "after  they  had 
begun  at  Drury  Lane."  This  is  of  course  very  indefinite  as  regards 
time.  Drury  Lane  was  opened  in  1663,  but  the  first  character 
for  which  we  can  find  Griffin's  name  mentioned,  is  that  of  Varnish 
in  "  The  Plain-Dealer,"  which  was  produced  in  1674.  At  the 
Union  in  1682,  Griffin  took  a  good  position  in  the  amalgamated 
company,  and  continued  on  the  stage  till  about  1688,  when 
his  name  disappears  from  the  bills.  During  this  time  he 
is  not  called  Captain,  but  in  lyoi  the  name  of  Captain  Griffin 
appears  among  the  Drury  Lane  actors.  Genest  says  it  is  more 
probable  that  this  should  be  Griffin  returned  to  the  stage  after 
thirteen  years  spent  in  the  army,  than  that  Captain  Griffin 
should  have  gone  on  the  stage  without  having  previously  been 
connected  with  it.  In  this  Genest  is  quite  correct,  for  the  anec- 
dote of  Goodman  and  Griffin,  which  Gibber  tells  in  Chap.  XII. 
shows  conclusively  that  Captain  Griffin  was  an  actor  during 
Goodman's  stage-career,  which  ended  certainly  before  1690.  He 
appears  to  have  finally  retired  about  the  beginning  of  1708. 
Downes  says  "  Mr.  Griffin  so  ExcelVd  in  Surly.  Sir  Edward  Bclfond, 
The  Plain  Dealer,  no7ie  succeeditig  in  the  2  former  have  Equaird  him, 

§4  THE    LIFE    OF 

brated  Mrs.  Oldfield.  Now  let  us  suppose  these 
Persons,  the  Men,  for  example,  to  have  been  all 
eminent  Mercers,  and  the  Women  as  famous  Milli- 
ners, can  we  imagine  that  merely  as  such,  though 
endow'd  with  the  same  natural  Understanding,  they 
could  have  been  call'd  into  the  same  honourable 
Parties  of  Conversation  ?  People  of  Sense  and  Con- 
dition could  not  but  know  it  was  impossible  they 
could  have  had  such  various  Excellencies  on  the 
Stage,  without  having  something  naturally  valuable 
in  them  :  And  I  will  take  upon  me  to  affirm,  w^ho 
knew  them  all  living,  that  there  was  not  one  of  the 
Number  who  were  not  capable  of  supportino-  a 
variety  of  Spirited  Conversation,  tho'  the  Stage  were 
never  to  have  been  the  Subject  of  it. 

That  to  have  trod  the  Stage  has  not  always  been 
thought  a  Disqualification  from  more  honourable 
Employments;  several  have  had  military  Commis- 
sions ;  Carlisle^  ^siA  Wiltshire''  wQrQ  both  kill'd  Cap- 

[nor  any]  except  his  Predecessor  Mr.  Hart  tn  the  tatier"  (p.  40).  I 
have  ventured  to  supply  the  two  words  "nor  any"  to  make  clear 
what  Downes  must  have  meant. 

'  The  "  Biographia  Dramatica "  (i.  87)  gives  an  account  of 
James  Carlile.  He  was  a  native  of  Lancashire,  and  in  his  youth 
was  an  actor ;  but  he  left  the  stage  for  the  army,  and  was  killed  at 
the  battle  of  Aughrim,  nth  July,  1691.  Nothing  practically  is 
known  of  his  stage  career.  Downes  (p.  39)  notes  that  at  the 
Union  of  the  Patents  in  1682,  "Mr.  Mo?tfort  and  Mr.  Carlile, 
were  grown  to  the  Maturity  of  good  ActorsT  I  cannot  trace  Car- 
lile's  name  in  the  bills  any  later  than  1685. 

"^  Wiltshire  seems  to  have  been  a  very  useful  actor  of  the 
second  rank.     In  1685  he  also  appears  for  the  last  time. 


tains;  one  in  King  Williams  Reduction  of /r^/^;2(/; 
and  the  other  in  his  first  War  in  Flandei^s  ;  and  the 
famous  Ben.  Johnson,  tho'  an  unsuccessful  Actor,  was 
afterwards  made  Poet-Laureat.^ 

To  these  laudable  Distinctions  let  me  add  one 
more;  that  of  Publick  Applause,  which,  when  truly 
merited,  is  perhaps  one  of  the  most  agreeable  Grati- 
fications that  venial  Vanity  can  feel.  A  Happiness 
almost  peculiar  to  the  Actor,  insomuch  that  the  best 
Tragick  Writer,  however  numerous  his  separate  Ad- 
mirers may  be,  yet,  to  unite  them  into  one  general 
Act  of  Praise,  to  receive  at  once  those  thundring 
Peals  of  Approbation  which  a  crouded  Theatre 
throws  out,  he  must  still  call  in  the  Assistance  of  the 
skilful  Actor  to  raise  and  partake  of  them. 

In  a  Word,  'twas  in  this  flattering  Light  only, 
though  not  perhaps  so  thoroughly  consider'd,  I  look'd 
upon  the  Life  of  an  Actor  when  but  eighteen  Years  of 
Age  ;  nor  can  you  wonder  if  the  Temptations  were  too 
strong  for  so  warm  a  Vanity  as  mine  to  resist ;  but 
whether  excusable  or  not,  to  the  Stage  at  length  I 
came,  and  it  Is  from  thence,  chiefly,  your  Curiosity, 
if  you  have  any  left,  is  to  expect  a  farther  Account  of 

*  That  Ben  Jonson  was  an  unsuccessful  actor  is  gravely  doubted 
by  Gifford  and  by  his  latest  editor,  Lieut.-Col.  Cunningham,  who 
give  excellent  reasons  in  support  of  their  view.  See  memoir  pre- 
fixed to  edition  of  Jonson,  1870,  i.  xi. 


A  short  View  of  the  Stage,  from  the  Year  1660  to  the  Revolution. 
The  King's  and  Duke^s  Company  united,  composed  the  best  Set  of 
English  Actors  yet  known.     Their  several  Theatrical  Characters. 

THO'  I  have  only  promis'd  you  an  Account  of 
all  the  material  Occurrences  of  the  Theatre 
during  my  own  Time,  yet  there  was  one  which  hap- 
pen'd  not  above  seven  Years  before  my  Admission 
to  it,  which  may  be  as  well  worth  notice  as  the  first 
great  Revolution  of  it,  in  which,  among  numbers,  I 
was  involv'd.  And  as  the  one  will  lead  you  into  a 
clearer  View  of  the  other,  it  may  therefore  be  pre- 
viously necessary  to  let  you  know  that 

THE    LIFE    OF    MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  8^ 

King  Chajdes  II.  at  his  Restoration  granted  two 
Patents,  one  to  Sir  William  Davenant^  and  the 
other  to  Thomas  Killigrezv,  Esq.,^  and  their  several 
Heirs  and  Assigns,  for  ever,  for  the  forming  of  two 
distinct  Companies  of  Comedians  :   The  first  were 

^  Sir  William  Davenant  was  the  son  of  a  vintner  and  innkeeper 
at  Oxford.  It  was  said  that  Shakespeare  used  frequently  to  stay 
at  the  inn,  and  a  story  accordingly  was  manufactured  that  William 
Davenant  was  in  fact  the  son  of  the  poet  through  an  amour  with 
Mrs.  Davenant.  But  of  this  there  is  no  shadow  of  proof.  Dave- 
nant went  to  Oxford,  but  made  no  special  figure  as  a  scholar, 
winning  fame,  however,  as  a  poet  and  dramatist.  On  the  death  of 
Ben  Jonson  in  1637  he  was  appointed  Poet-Laureate,  and  in  1639 
received  a  licence  from  Charles  I.  to  get  together  a  company  of 
players.  In  the  Civil  War  he  greatly  distinguished  himself,  and 
was  knighted  by  the  King  for  his  bravery.  Before  the  Restoration 
Davenant  was  permitted  by  Cromwell  to  perform  some  sort  of 
theatrical  pieces  at  Rutland  House,  in  Charter-House  Yard, 
where  "The  Siege  of  Rhodes"  was  played  about  1656.  At  the 
Restoration  a  Patent  was  granted  to  him  in  August,  1660,  and  he 
engaged  Rhodes's  company  of  Players,  including  Betterton, 
Kynaston,  Underbill,  and  Nokes.  Another  Patent  was  granted 
to  him,  dated  15th  Januar}',  1663,  (see  copy  of  Patent  given  atite,) 
under  which  he  managed  the  theatre'  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  till 
his  death  in  1668.  Davenant's  company  were  called  the  Duke's 
Players.  The  changes  which  were  made  in  the  conduct  of  the 
stage  during  Davenant's  career,  such  as  the  introduction  of  elabo- 
rate scenery  and  the  first  appearance  of  women  in  plays,  make  it 
one  of  the  first  interest  and  importance.  (See  Mr.  Joseph  Knight's 
Preface  to  his  recent  edition  of  the  "  Roscius  Anglicanus.") 

*  Thomas  Killigrew  (not  "Henry"  Killigrew,  as  Cibber  erro- 
neously writes)  was  a  very  noted  and  daring  humorist.  He  was  a 
faithful  adherent  of  King  Charles  I.,  and  at  the  Restoration  was 
made  a  Groom  of  the  Bedchamber.  He  also  received  a  Patent, 
dated  25th  April,  1662,  to  raise  a  company  of  actors  to  be 
called  the  King's  Players.  These  acted  at  the  Theatre  Royal  in 
Drury  Lane.    Killigrew  survived  the  Union  of  the  two  Companies 

88  THE    LIFE   OF 

call'd  the  Kings  Servants,  and  acted  at  the  Theatre- 
Royal  in  Drury-Lane ;^  and  the  other  the  Dukes 
Company,  who  acted  at  the  Duke's  Theatre  in  Dor- 
set-Garden} About  ten  of  the  King's  Company- 
were  on  the  Royal  Houshold- Establishment,  having 
each  ten  Yards  of  Scarlet  Cloth,  with  a  proper  quan- 
tity of  Lace  allow'd  them  for  Liveries ;  and  in  their 
Warrants  from  the  Lord  Chamberlain  were  stiled 
Gentlemen  of  the  Great  Chamber.^  Whether  the 
like  Appointments  were  extended  to  the  Duke's 
Company,  I  am  not  certain  ;  but  they  were  both  in 
high  Estimation  with  the  Publick,  and  so  much  the 

in  1682,  dying  on  the  19th  of  March,  1683.  He  cannot  be  said 
to  have  made  much  mark  in  theatrical  history.  The  best  anec- 
dote of  Killigrew  is  that  related  by  Granger,  how  he  waited  on 
Charles  II.  one  day  dressed  like  a  Pilgrim  bound  on  a  long 
journey.  When  the  King  asked  him  whither  he  was  going,  he 
replied,  "To  Hell,  to  fetch  back  Oliver  Cromwell  to  take  care 
of  England,  for  his  successor  takes  none  at  all." 

^  It  is  curious  to  note  that  this  theatre,  which  occupied  the  same 
site  as  the  present  Drury  Lane,  was  sometimes  described  as  Drury 
Lane,  sometimes  as  Covent  Garden. 

'^  Should  be  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields.  Dorset  Garden,  which  was 
situated  in  Salisbury  Court,  Fleet  Street,  was  not  opened  till  167 1. 

^  Genest  (ii.  302)  remarks  on  this  :  "  How  long  this  lasted  does 
not  appear — it  appears  however  that  it  lasted  to  Queen  Anne's 
time,  as  the  alteration  of  '  Wit  without  Money '  is  dedicated  to 
Thomas  Newman,  Servant  to  her  Majesty,  one  of  the  Gentlemen 
of  the  Great  Chamber,  and  Book-keeper  and  Prompter  to  her 
Majesty's  Company  of  Comedians  in  the  Haymarket."  Dr.  Doran 
in  his  "Their  Majesties'  Servants"  (1888  edition,  iii.  419),  says 
that  he  was  informed  by  Benjamin  Webster  that  Baddeley  was  the 
last  actor  who  wore  the  uniform  of  scarlet  and  gold  prescribed  for 
the  Gentlemen  of  the  Household,  who  were  patented  actors. 



MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  89 

Delight  and  Concern  of  the  Court,  that  they  were 
not  only  supported  by  its  being  frequently  present  at 
their  publick  Presentations,  but  by  its  taking  cogni- 
zance even  of  their  private  Government,  insomuch 
that  their  particular  Differences,  Pretentions,  or 
Complaints  were  generally  ended  by  the  King  or 
Duke^  Personal  Command  or  Decision.  Besides 
their  being  thorough  Masters  of  their  Art,  these 
Actors  set  forwards  with  two  critical  Advantages, 
which  perhaps  may  never  happen  again  in  many 
Ages.  The  one  was,  their  immediate  opening  after 
the  so  long  Interdiction  of  Plays  during  the  Civil 
War  and  the  Anarchy  that  followed  it.  What  eager 
Appetites  from  so  long  a  Fast  must  the  Guests  of 
those  Times  have  had  to  that  high  and  fresh  variety 
of  Entertainments  which  Shakespear'Wa.di  left  prepared 
for  them  .'*  Never  was  a  Stage  so  provided !  A  hun- 
dred Years  are  wasted,  and  another  silent  Century 
well  advanced,  and  yet  what  unborn  Age  shall  say 
Shakespear  has  his  equal !  How  many  shining  Actors 
have  the  warm  Scenes  of  his  Genius  given  to  Pos- 
terity ?  without  being  himself  in  his  Action  equal  to 
his  Writing!  A  strong  Proof  that  Actors,  like 
Poets,  must  be  born  such.  Eloquence  and  Elocu- 
tion are  quite  different  Talents  :  Shakespear  could 
write  Hamlet,  but  Tradition  tells  us  That  the  Ghost, 
in  the  same  Play,  was  one  of  his  best  Performances 
as  an  Actor :  Nor  is  it  within  the  reach  of  Rule  or 
Precept  to  complete  either  of  them.  Instruction,  'tis 
true,  may  guard  them  equally  against   Faults  or  Ab- 


90  THE    LIFE    OF 

surdities,  but  there  it  stops ;  Nature  must  do  the 
rest  :  To  excel  in  either  Art  is  a  self-born  Happiness 
which  somethinof  more  than  crood  Sense  must  be  the 
Mother  of. 

The  other  Advantage  I  was  speaking  of  is,  that 
before  the  Restoration  no  Actresses  had  ever  been 
seen  upon  the  English  Stage/  The  Characters  of 
Women  on  former  Theatres  were  perform'd  by  Boys, 
or  young  Men  of  the  most  effeminate  Aspect.  And 
what  Grace  or  Master-strokes  of  Action  can  we  con- 
ceive such  ungain  Hoydens  to  have  been  capable  of? 
This  Defect  was  so  well  considered  by  Skakespear, 
that  in  few  of  his  Plays  he  has  any  greater  Depen- 
dance  upon  the  Ladies  than  in  the  Innocence  and 
Simplicity  of  a  Desdemona,  an  Ophelia,  or  in  the 
short  Specimen  of  a  fond  and  virtuous  Po7'-tia.  The 
additional    Objects   then  of  real,   beautiful  Women 

^  The  question  of  the  identity  of  the  first  Enghsh  actress  is  a 
very  intricate  one.  Mr.  Percy  Fitzgerald,  in  his  "  New  History 
of  the  English  Stage,"  seems  to  incHne  to  favour  Anne  Marshall, 
while  Mr.  Joseph  Knight,  in  his  edition  of  the  "  Roscius  AngH- 
canus,"  pronounces  for  Mrs.  Coleman.  Davies  says  positively 
that  "the  first  woman  actress  was  the  mother  of  Norris,  commonly 
called  Jubilee  Dicky."  Thomas  Jordan  wrote  a  Prologue  "to 
introduce  the  first  woman  that  came  to  act  on  the  stage,"  but  as 
the  lady's  name  is  not  given,  this  does  not  help  us.  The  distinc- 
tion is  also  claimed  for  Mrs.  Saunderson  (afterwards  Mrs.  Better- 
ton)  and  Margaret  Hughes.  But  since  Mr.  Knight  has  shown 
that  the  performances  in  1656  at  Rutland  House,  where  Mrs. 
Coleman  appeared,  were  for  money,  I  do  not  see  that  we  can 
escape  from  the  conclusion  that  this  lady  was  the  first  English 
professional  actress.  Who  the  first  actress  after  the  Restoration 
was  is  as  yet  unsettled. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  9 1 

could  not  but  draw  a  Proportion  of  new  Admirers  to 
the  Theatre.  We  may  imagine,  too,  that  these 
Actresses  were  not  ill  chosen,  when  it  is  well  known 
that  more  than  one  of  them  had  Charms  sufficient  at 
their  leisure  Hours  to  calm  and  mollify  the  Cares  of 
Empire.^  Besides  these  peculiar  Advantages,  they 
had  a  private  Rule  or  Agreement,  which  both  Houses 
were  happily  ty'd  down  to,  which  was,  that  no  Play 
acted  at  one  House  should  ever  be  attempted  at  the 
other.  All  the  capital  Plays  therefore  of  Shakespear, 
Fletchei^,  and  Ben.  Johnson  were  divided  between 
them  by  the  Approbation  of  the  Court  and  their  own 
alternate  Choice.^  So  that  when  Hart  ^  was  famous 
for  Othello,  Betterton  had  no  less  a  Reputation  for 
Hamlet.  By  this  Order  the  Stage  was  supply'd 
with  a  greater  Variety  of  Plays  than  could  possibly 
have  been  shewn  had  both  Companies  been  em- 
ploy'd  at  the  same  time  upon  the  same  Play  ;  which 
Liberty,  too,  must  have  occasion 'd  such  frequent 
Repetitions  of  'em,  by  their  opposite  Endeavours  to 
forestall  and  anticipate  one  another,  that  the  best 
Actors  in  the  World  must  have  grown  tedious  and 
tasteless  to  the  Spectator  :  For  what  Pleasure  is  not 
languid  to   Satiety  ?^     It  was  therefore  one  of  our 

'  Meaning,  no  doubt,  Nell  Gwyn  and  Moll  Davis. 

■^  Genest  points  out  (i.  404)  that  Gibber  is  not  quite  accurate 
here.  Shakespeare's  and  Fletcher's  plays  may  have  been  shared  ; 
Jonson's  certainly  were  not. 

^  See  memoir  of  Hart  at  end  of  second  volume. 

*  Genest  says  that  this  regulation  "  might  be  very  proper  at  the 
first  restoration  of  the  stage ;  but  as  a  perpetual  rule  it  was  absurd. 

92  THE    LIFE    OF 

greatest  Happinesses  (during  my  time  of  being  in 
the  Menagement  of  the  Stage)  that  we  had  a  certain 
Number  of  select  Plays  which  no  other  Company 
had  the  good  Fortune  to  make  a  tolerable  Figure  in, 
and  consequently  could  find  little  or  no  Account  by 
acting  them  against  us.  These  Plays  therefore  for 
many  Years,  by  not  being  too  often  seen,  never  fail'd 
to  bring  us  crowded  Audiences  ;  and  it  was  to  this 
Conduct  we  ow'd  no  little  Share  of  our  Prosperity. 
But  when  four  Houses^  are  at  once  (as  very  lately 
they  were)  all  permitted  to  act  the  same  Pieces,  let 
three  of  them  perform  never  so  ill,  when  Plays 
come  to  be  so  harrass'd  and  hackney'd  out  to  the 
common  People  (half  of  which  too,  perhaps,  would  as 
lieve  see  them  at'  one  House  as  another)  the  best 
Actors  will  soon  feel  that  the  Town  has  enough  of 

I  know  it  is  the  common  Opinion,  That  the  more 
Play-houses  the  more  Emulation ;  I  grant  it ;  but 
what  has  this  Emulation  ended   in  ?     Why,  a  daily 

Gibber  approves  of  it,  not  considering  that  Betterton  could  never 
have  acted  Othello,  Brutus,  or  Hotspur  (the  very  parts  for  which 
Gibber  praises  him  so  much)  if  there  had  not  been  a  junction  of 
the  companies."  Bellchambers,  in  a  long  note,  also  contests 
Gibber's  opinion. 

'  In  the  season  1735-6,  in  addition  to  the  two  Patent  Theatres, 
Drury  Lane  and  Govent  Garden,  Giffard  was  playing  at  Goodman's 
Fields  Theatre,  and  Fielding,  with  his  Great  Mogul's  Gompany  of 
Comedians,  occupied  the  Haymarket.  In  1736-7  Giffard  played 
at  the  Lincoln's-Inn-Fields  Theatre,  and  Goodman's  Fields  was 
unused.  The  Licensing  Act  of  1737  closed  the  two  irregular 
houses,  leaving  only  Drury  Lane  and  Govent  Garden  open. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  93 

Contention  which  shall  soonest  surfeit  you  with  the 
best  Plays  ;  so  that  when  what  ought  to  please  can 
no  longer  please,  your  Appetite  is  again  to  be  raised 
by  such  monstrous  Presentations  as  dishonour  the 
Taste  of  a  civiliz'd  People/  If,  indeed,  to  our 
several  Theatres  we  could  raise  a  proportionable 
Number  of  o"0od  Authors  to  g^ive  them  all  different 
Employment,  then  perhaps  the  Publick  might  profit 
from  their  Emulation :  But  while  good  Writers  are 
so  scarce,  and  undaunted  Criticks  so  plenty,  I  am 
afraid  a  good  Play  and  a  blazing  Star  will  be  equal 
Rarities.  This  voluptuous  Expedient,  therefore,  of 
indulging  the  Taste  with  several  Theatres,  will 
amount  to  much  the  same  variety  as  that  of  a  certain 
Oeconomist,  who,  to  enlarge  his  Hospitality,  would 
have  two  Puddings  and  two  Legs  of  Mutton  for  the 
same  Dinner." — But  to  resume  the  Thread  of  my 

These  two  excellent  Companies  were  both  pros- 
perous for  some  few  Years,  'till  their  Variety  of 
Plays  began  to  be  exhausted  :  Then  of  course  the 
better  Actors  (which  the  King's  seem  to  have  been 

'  Gibber  here  refers  to  the  Pantomimes,  which  he  deals  with  at 
some  length  in  Chapter  XV. 

■'  Fielding  ("Champion,"  6th  May,  1740):  "Another  Obser- 
vation which  I  have  made  on  our  Author's  Similies  is,  that  they 
generally  have  an  Eye  towards  the  Kitchen.  Thus,/^^i?  56,  Two 
Play-Houses  are  like  two  Puddings  or  two  Legs  of  Mutton. 
224.  To  plant  young  Actors  is  not  so  easy  as  to  plant  Cabbages.  To 
which  let  me  add  a  Metaphor  m page  57,  where  unprofitable  Praise 
can  hardly  give  Truth  a  Soup  Maigre." 

94  THE    LIFE    OF 

allowed)  could  not  fail  of  drawing  the  greater 
Audiences.  Sir  William  Davenant,  therefore,  Master 
of  the  Duke's  Company,  to  make  Head  against  their 
Success,  was  forced  to  add  Spectacle  and  Musick  to 
Action  ;  and  to  introduce  a  new  Species  of  Plays, 
since  call'd  Dramatick  Opera's,  of  which  kind  were 
the  Tempest,  Psyche,  Circe,  and  others,  all  set  off 
with  the  most  expensive  Decorations  of  Scenes  and 
Habits,  with  the  best  Voices  and  Dancers/ 

This  sensual  Supply  of  Sight  and  Sound  coming 
in  to  the  Assistance  of  the  weaker  Party,  it  was  no 
Wonder  they  should  grow  too  hard  for  Sense  and 
simple  Nature,  when  it  is  consider'd  how  many  more 
People  there  are,  that  can  see  and  hear,  than  think 
and  judge.  So  wanton  a  Change  of  the  publick 
Taste,  therefore,  began  to  fall  as  heavy  upon  the 
King's  Company  as  their  greater  Excellence  in 
Action  had  before  fallen  upon  their  Competitors  :  Of 
which  Encroachment  upon  Wit  several  good  Pro- 
logues in  those  Days  frequently  complain'd.^ 

'  "  Dramatic  Operas  "  seem  to  have  been  first  produced  about 
1672.  In  1673  "The  Tempest,"  made  into  an  opera  by  Shadwell, 
was  played  at  Dorset  Garden;  " Pysche  "  followed  in  the  next 
year,  and  "  Circe"  in  1677.  "  Macbeth,"  as  altered  by  Davenant, 
was  produced  in  1672,  "in  the  nature  of  an  Opera,"  as  Downes 
])hrases  it. 

^  Dryden,  in  his  "Prologue  on  the  Opening  of  the  New  House" 
in  1674,  writes  : — 

'"Twere  folly  now  a  stately  pile  to  raise, 

To  build  a  playhouse  while  you  throw  down  plays ; 

While  scenes,  machines,  and  empty  operas  reign " 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  95 

But  alas  !  what  can  Truth  avail,  when  its  De- 
pendance  is  much  more  upon  the  Ignorant  than  the 
sensible  Auditor  ?  a  poor  Satisfaction,  that  the  due 
Praise  given  to  it  must  at  last  sink  into  the  cold 
Comfort  of — Latidatur  &  Alget}  Unprofitable 
Praise  can  hardly  give  it  a  Soup  maigre.  Taste  and 
Fashion  with  us  have  always  had  Wings,  and  fly 
from  one  publick  Spectacle  to  another  so  wantonly, 
that  I  have  been  inform'd  by  those  who  remember  it, 
that  a  famous  Puppet-shew'^  in  Salisbury  Change 
(then  standing  where  Cecil-Street  now  is)  so  far  dis- 
trest  these  two  celebrated  Companies,  that  they  were 
reduced  to  petition  the  King  for  Relief  against  it  : 
Nor  ought  we  perhaps  to  think  this  strange,  when, 
if  I  mistake  not,  Terence  himself  reproaches  the 
Ro7nau  Auditors  of  his  Time  with  the  like  Fondness 
for  the  Fiuiambuli,  the  Rope-dancers.^  Not  to  dwell 
too  long  therefore  upon  that  Part  of  my  History 
which  I   have  only  collected  from  oral  Tradition,  I 

and  the  Prologue  concludes  with  the  lines  : — 
"  'Tis  to  be  feared 

That,  as  a  fire  the  former  house  o'erthrew. 
Machines  and  Tempests  will  destroy  the  new." 

The  allusion  in  the  last  line  is  to  the  opera  of  "  The  Tempest," 
which  I  have  mentioned  in  the  previous  note. 
^  "  Probitas  laudatur  et  alget." 

Juvenal,  i.  74. 
^  In  the  Prologue  to  "The  Emperor  of  the  Moon,"  1687,  the 
line  occurred  :  "There's  nothing  lasting  but  the  Puppet-show." 
^  "  Ita  populus  studio  stupidus  in  funambulo 

Animum  occuparat." 

Terence,  Prol.  to  ^^Hecyra"  line  4. 

96  THE    LIFE    OF 

shall  content  myself  with  telling  you  that  Mohun  ' 
and  Hart  now  growing  old  (for,  above  thirty  Years 
before  this  Time,  they  had  severally  born  the  King's 
Commission  of  Major  and  Captain  in  the  Civil  Wars), 
and  the  younger  Actors,  as  Goodman^  Clark^  and 
others,  being  impatient  to  get  into  their  Parts,  and 
growing  intractable,*  the  Audiences  too  of  both 
Houses  then  falling  off,  the  Patentees  of  each,  by  the 
King's  Advice,  which  perhaps  amounted  to  a  Com- 
mand, united  their  Interests  and  both  Companies 
into  one,  exclusive  of  all  others,  in  the  Year  1682.^ 
This  Union  was,  however,  so  much  in  favour  of  the 
Duke's  Company,  that  Hm'-t  left  the  Stage  upon  it, 
and  Mohun  survived  not  long  after. 

One  only  Theatre  being  now  in  Possession  of  the 
whole  Town,  the  united  Patentees  imposed  their  own 

^  See  memoir  of  Michael  Mohun  at  end  of  second  volume. 

*  See  memoir  of  Cardell  Goodman  at  end  of  second  volume. 

'  Of  Clark  very  little  is  known.  The  earliest  play  in  which  his 
name  is  given  by  Downes  is  "  The  Plain-Dealer,"  which  was  pro- 
duced at  the  Theatre  Royal  in  1674,  Clark  playing  Novel,  a  part 
of  secondary  importance.  His  name  appears  to  Massina  in 
"  Sophonisba,"  Hephestion  in  "Alexander  the  Great,"  Dolabella 
in  "All  for  Love,"  Aquitius  in  "  Mythridates,"  and  (his  last  re- 
corded part)  the  Earl  of  Essex,  the  principal  character  in  "  The 
Unhappy  Favourite,"  Theatre  Royal,  1682.  After  the  Union  of 
the  Companies  in  1682  his  name  does  not  occur.  Bellchambers 
has  several  trifling  errors  in  the  memoir  he  gives  of  this  actor. 

*  Curll  ("History  of  the  English  Stage,"  p.  9)  says:  "The 
Feuds  and  Animosities  of  the  King's  Company  were  so  well  im- 
proved, as  to  produce  an  Union  betwixt  the  two  Patents." 

^  Gibber  gives  the  year  as  1684,  but  this  is  so  obviously  a  slip 
that  I  venture  to  correct  the  text. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  97 

Terms  upon  the  Actors  ;  for  the  Profits  of  acting 
were  then  divided  into  twenty  Shares,  ten  of  which 
went  to  the  Proprietors,  and  the  other  Moiety  to 
the  principal  Actors,  in  such  Sub-divisions  as  their 
different  Merit  might  pretend  to.  These  Shares  of 
the  Patentees  were  promiscuously  sold  out  to  Money- 
making  Persons,  call'd  Adventurers,^  who,  tho'  utterly 
ignorant  of  Theatrical  Affairs,  were  still  admitted  to 
a  proportionate  Vote  in  the  Menagement  of  them  ; 
all  particular  Encouragements  to  Actors  were  by 
them,  of  Consequence,  look'd  upon  as  so  many  Sums 
deducted  from  their  private  Dividends,  While 
therefore  the  Theatrical  Hive  had  so  many  Drones 
in  it,  the  labouring  Actors,  sure,  were  under  the 
highest  Discouragement,  if  not  a  direct  State  of 
Oppression.  Their  Hardship  will  at  least  appear  in 
a  much  stronger  Light  when  compar'd  to  our  later 
Situation,  who  with  scarce  half  their  Merit  succeeded 
to  be  Sharers  under  a  Patent  upon  five  times  easier 
Conditions  :  For  as  they  had  but  half  the  Profits 
divided  among  ten  or  more  of  them  ;  we  had  three 
fourths  of  the  whole  Profits  divided  only  among  three 
of  us  :  And  as  they  might  be  said  to  have  ten  Task- 
masters over  them,  we  never  had  but  one  Assistant 
Menager  (not  an  Actor)  join'd  with  us  ;^  who,  by  the 

'  Genest  (ii.  62)  remarks  :  "The  theatre  in  Dorset  Garden  had 
been  built  by  subscription — the  subscribers  were  called  Adven- 
turers-— of  this  Gibber  seems  totally  ignorant — that  there  were  any 
new  Adventurers,  added  to  the  original  number,  rests  solely  on  his 
authority,  and  in  all  probability  he  is  not  correct." 

^  Gibber  afterwards  relates  the  connection  of  Owen   Swiney, 

gS  THE    LIFE    OF 

Crown's  Indulgence,  was  sometimes  too  of  our  own 
chusing.  Under  this  heavy  Estabhshment  then 
groan'd  this  United  Company  when  I  was  first 
admitted  into  the  lowest  Rank  of  it.  How  they 
came  to  be  relieved  by  King  Williams  Licence  in 
1695,  how  they  were  again  dispersed  early  in  Queen 
Alines  Reign,  and  from  what  Accidents  Fortune 
took  better  care  of  Us,  their  unequal  Successors,  will 
be  told  in  its  Place  :  But  to  prepare  you  for  the 
opening  so  large  a  Scene  of  their  History,  methinks 
I  ought  (in  Justice  to  their  Memory  too)  to  give  you 
such  particular  Characters  of  their  Theatrical  Merit 
as  in  my  plain  Judgment  they  seem'd  to  deserve. 
Presuming  then  that  this  Attempt  may  not  be  dis- 
agreeable to  the  Curious  or  the  true  Lovers  of  the 
Theatre,  take  it  without  farther  Preface. 

In  the  Year  1690,  when  I  first  came  into  this 
Company,  the  principal  Actors  then  at  the  Head  of  it 

Of  Men.  Of  Women. 

Mr.  Bettei'-ton,  Mrs.  Better  ton, 

Mr.  Monfort,  Mrs.  Bamy, 

Mr.  Ky  71  as  ton,  Mrs.  Leigh, 

Mr.  Sandford,  Mrs.  Butler, 

Mr.  Nokes,  Mrs.  Monfort,  and 

Mr.  Under kil,  and  Mrs.  Braceoirdle. 

Mr.  Leigh. 

These  Actors  whom  I  have  selected  from  their 

William  Collier,  M.P.,  and  Sir  Richard  Steele,  with  himself  and 
his  actor-partners. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  99 

Cotemporaries  were  all  original  Masters  in  their 
different  Stile,  not  meer  auricular  Imitators  of  one 
another,  which  commonly  is  the  highest  Merit  of  the 
middle  Rank,  but  Self-judges  of  Nature,  from  whose 
various  Lights  they  only  took  their  true  Instruction. 
If  in  the  following  Account  of  them  I  may  be 
oblieed  to  hint  at  the  Faults  of  others,  I  never  mean 
such  Observations  should  extend  to  those  who  are 
now  in  Possession  of  the  Stage ;  for  as  I  design  not 
my  Memoirs  shall  come  down  to  their  Time,  I  would 
not  lie  under  the  Imputation  of  speaking  in  their 
Disfavour  to  the  Publick,  whose  Approbation  they 
must  depend  upon  for  Support.^  But  to  my  Purpose. 
Betterton  was  an  Actor,  as  Skakespear  was  an 
Author,  both  without  Competitors  !  form'd  for  the 
mutual  Assistance  and  Illustration  of  each  others 
Genius  !  How  Skakespear  wrote,  all  Men  who  have 
a  Taste  for  Nature  may  read  and  know — but  with 
what  higher  Rapture  would  he  still  be  I'-ead  could 
they  conceive  how  Betterton  playd  him  !  Then 
might  they  know  the  one  was  born  alone  to  spea:k 
what  the  other  only  knew  to  write  !  Pity  it  is  that 
the  momentary  Beauties  flowing  from  an  harmonious 
Elocution  cannot,  like  those  of  Poetry,  be  their  own 
Record !  That  the  animated  Graces  of  the  Player 
can   live    no   lonofer   than    the   instant   Breath   and 


^  The  only  one  of  Gibber's  contemporaries  of  any  note  who  was 
alive  when  the  "Apology"  was  published,  was  Benjamin  Johnson. 
This  admirable  comedian  died  in  August,  1742,  in  his  seventy- 
seventh  year,  having  played  as  late  as  the  end  of  May  of  that  year. 

lOO  THE    LIFE    OF 

Motion  that  presents  them,  or  at  best  can  but  faintly 
ghmmer  through  the  Memory  or  imperfect  Attes- 
tation of  a  few  surviving  Spectators.  Could  how 
Betterton  spoke  be  as  easily  known  as  what  he 
spoke,  then  might  you  see  the  Muse  of  Shakespear 
in  her  Triumph,  with  all  her  Beauties  in  their  best 
Array  rising  into  real  Life  and  charming  her  Be- 
holders. But  alas  !  since  all  this  is  so  far  out  of  the 
reach  of  Description,  how  shall  I  shew  you  Betterton  f 
Should  I  therefore  tell  you  that  all  the  Othellos, 
Hamlets,  Hotspitrs,  Mackbeths,  and  Brutus^  whom 
you  may  have  seen  since  his  Time,  have  fallen  far 
short  of  him;  this  still  would  give  you  no  Idea  of 
his  particular  Excellence.  Let  us  see  then  what  a 
particular  Comparison  may  do  !  whether  that  may 
yet  draw  him  nearer  to  you  ? 

You  have  seen  a  Hamlet  perhaps,  who,  on  the 
first  Appearance  of  his  Father's  Spirit,  has  thrown 
himself  into  all  the  straining  Vociferation  requisite  to 
express  Rage  and  Fury,  and  the  House  has  thunder'd 
with  Applause ;  tho'  the  mis-guided  Actor  was  all 
the  while  (as  Shakespear  terms  it)  tearing  a  Passion 

into  Rags  ^ 1  am  the  more  bold  to  offer  you  this 

particular  Instance,  because  the  late  Mr.  Addison, 
while  I  sate  by  him  to  see  this  Scene  acted,  made 

'  The  actor  pointed  at  is,  no  doubt,  Wilks.  In  the  last  chapter 
of  this  work  Gibber,  in  giving  the  theatrical  character  of  Wilks, 
says  of  his  Hamlet :  "  I  own  the  Half  of  what  he  spoke  was  as 
painful  to  my  Ear,  as  every  Line  that  came  from  Betterton  was 


the  same  Observation,  asking  me,  with  some  Surprize, 
if  I  thought  Hamlet  should  be  in  so  violent  a  Passion 
with  the  Ghost,  which,  tho'  it  might  have  astonish'd, 
it  had  not  provok'd  him  ?  for  you  may  observe  that 
in  this  beautiful  Speech  the  Passion  never  rises  be- 
yond an  almost  breathless  Astonishment,  or  an  Im- 
patience, limited  by  filial  Reverence,  to  enquire  into 
the  suspected  Wrongs  that  may  have  rais'd  him  from 
his  peaceful  Tomb !  and  a  Desire  to  know  what  a 
Spirit  so  seemingly  distrest  might  wish  or  enjoin  a 
sorrowful  Son  to  execute  towards  his  future  Quiet  in 
the  Grave  ?    This  was  the  Light  into  which  Betterton 
threw  this  Scene  ;  which  he  open'd  with  a  Pause  of 
mute  Amazement!  then  rising  slowly  to  a  solemn, 
trembling  Voice,  he  made  the  Ghost  equally  terrible 
to  the  Spectator  as  to  himself!^  and  in  the  descriptive 
Part  of  the   natural    Emotions   which    the   ghastly 
Vision  gave  him,  the  boldness  of  his  Expostulation 
was  still  govern'd  by  Decency,  manly,  but  not  brav- 
ino- ;  his  Voice  never  rising  into  that  seeming  Outrage 
or  wild  Defiance  of  what  he  naturally  rever'd.^     But 
alas !    to  preserve  this  medium,   between  mouthing 

^  Barton  Booth,  who  was  probably  as  great  in  the  part  of  the 
Ghost  as  Betterton  was  in  Hamlet,  said,  "  When  I  acted  the  Ghost 
with  Betterton,  instead  of  my  awing  him,  he  terrified  me.  But 
divinity  hung  round  that  man  !" — "  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  32. 

^  "  The  Laureat  "  repeats  the  eulogium  of  a  gentleman  who  had 
seen  Betterton  play  Hamlet,  and  adds  :  "  And  yet,  the  same 
Gentleman  assured  me,  he  has  seen  Mr.  Betterton,  more  than 
once,  play  this  Character  to  an  Audience  of  twenty  Pounds,  or 
under"  (p.  32). 

I02  THE    LIFE    OF 

and  meaning  too  little,  to  keep  the  Attention  more 
pleasingly  awake  by  a  temper'd  Spirit  than  by  meer 
Vehemence  of  Voice,  is  of  all  the  Master-strokes  of 
an  Actor  the  most  difficult  to  reach.  In  this  none 
yet  have  equall'd  Betterton.  But  I  am  unwilling  to 
shew  his  Superiority  only  by  recounting  the  Errors 
of  those  who  now  cannot  answer  to  them,  let  their 
farther  Failings  therefore  be  forgotten !  or  rather, 
shall  I  in  some  measure  excuse  them  ?  For  I  am 
not  yet  sure  that  they  might  not  be  as  much  owing 
to  the  false  Judgment  of  the  Spectator  as  the  Actor. 
While  the  Million  are  so  apt  to  be  transported  when 
the  Drum  of  their  Ear  is  so  roundly  rattled  ;  while 
they  take  the  Life  of  Elocution  to  lie  in  the  Strength 
of  the  Lungs,  it  is  no  wonder  the  Actor,  whose  end  is 
Applause,  should  be  also  tempted  at  this  easy  rate  to 
excite  it.  Shall  I  go  a  little  farther  .-^  and  allow  that 
this  Extreme  is  more  pardonable  than  its  opposite 
Error  ?  I  mean  that  dangerous  Affectation  of  the 
Monotone,  or  solemn  Sameness  of  Pronounciation, 
which,  to  my  Ear,  is  insupportable  ;  for  of  all  Faults 
that  so  frequently  pass  upon  the  Vulgar,  that  of 
Flatness  will  have  the  fewest  Admirers.  That  this 
is  an  Error  of  ancient  standing  seems  evident  by 
what  Hamlet  says,  in  his  Instructions  to  the  Players, 

Be  not  too  tame,  neither,  8ic. 

The  Actor,  doubtless,  is  as  strongly  ty'd  down  to 
the  Rules  of  IIo7'ace  as  the  Writer. 


Si  vis  me  flere,  dolendum  est 
Primum  ipsi  tibi ^ 

He  that  feels  not  himself  the  Passion  he  would  raise, 
will  talk  to  a  sleeping  Audience  :  But  this  never  was 
the  Fault  of  Betterton;  and  it  has  often  amaz'd  me 
to  see  those  who  soon  came  after  him  throw  out,  in 
some  Parts  of  a  Character,  a  just  and  graceful  Spirit 
which  Betterton  himself  could  not  but  have  applauded. 
And  yet  in  the  equally  shining  Passages  of  the  same 
Character  have  heavily  dragg'd  the  Sentiment  along 
like  a  dead  Weight,  with  a  long-ton'd  Voice  and 
absent  Eye,  as  if  they  had  fairly  forgot  what  they 
were  about  :  If  you  have  never  made  this  Observa- 
tion, I  am  contented  you  should  not  know  where  to 
apply  it.^ 

A  farther  Excellence  in  Bette^'ton  was,  that  he 
could  vary  his  Spirit  to  the  different  Characters  he 
acted.  Those  wild  impatient  Starts,  that  fierce  and 
flashing  Fire,  which  he  threw  into  Hotspui^,  never 
came  from  the  unruffled  Temper  of  his  Brutus  (for 
I  have  more  than  once  seen  a  Brutus  as  warm  as 
Hotspur^  :  when  the  Betterton  BrtitiLs  was  provok'd 
in  his  Dispute  with  Cassius,  his  Spirit  flew  only  to 
his  Eye  ;  his  steady  Look  alone  supply'd  that  Terror 

'  Ars  Poetica,  102.  This  is  the  much  discussed  question  of 
Diderot's  "  Paradoxe  sur  le  Comedien,"  which  has  recently  been 
revived  by  Mr.  Henry  Irving  and  M.  Coquelin,  and  has  formed 
the  subject  of  some  interesting  studies  by  Mr.  WilHam  Archer. 

^  This  is  doubtless  directed  at  Booth,  who  was  naturally  of  an 
indolent  disposition,  and  seems  to  have  been,  on  occasions,  apt  to 
drag  through  a  part. 

I04  THE    LIFE    OF 

which  he  disdain'd  an  Intemperance  in  his  Voice 
should  rise  to.  Thus,  with  a  settled  Dignity  of 
Contempt,  like  an  unheeding  Rock  he  repelled  upon 
himself  the  Foam  of  Cassius.  Perhaps  the  very- 
Words  of  Shakespear  will  better  let  you  into  my 
Meaninof : 

Must  I  give  way  and  room  to  yotir  rash  Choler'^ 
Shall  I  be  fjnghted  when  a  Madman  stares  ? 

And  a  little  after, 

There  is  no  Tei^'or^  Cassius,  in  your  Looks  !  8ic. 

Not  but  in  some  part  of  this  Scene,  where  he  re- 
proaches Cassius,  his  Temper  is  not  under  this  Sup- 
pression, but  opens  into  that  Warmth  which  becomes 
a  Man  of  Virtue ;  yet  this  is  that  Hasty  Spark  of 
Anpfer  which  Brutus  himself  endeavours  to  excuse. 

But  with  whatever  strength  of  Nature  we  see  the 
Poet  shew  at  once  the  Philosopher  and  the  Heroe, 
yet  the  Image  of  the  Actor's  Excellence  will  be  still 
imperfect  to  you  unless  Language  could  put  Colours 
in  our  Words  to  paint  the  Voice  with. 

Et,  si  vis  similem  pijigere,  pinge  sonum}  is  enjoyn- 
ing  an  impossibility.  The  most  that  a  Vandyke  can 
arrive  at,  is  to  make  his  Portraits  of  great  Persons 
seem  to  think ;  a  Shakespear  goes  farther  yet,  and 
tells  you  what  his  Pictures  thought ;  a  Betteidon  steps 
beyond  'em  both,  and  calls  them  from  the  Grave  to 
breathe  and  be  themselves  again  in  Feature,  Speech, 

'  Ausonius,  ii,  8  {Epigrain.  xi.). 



and  Motion.  When  the  skilful  Actor  shews  you  all 
these  Powers  at  once  united,  and  gratifies  at  once 
your  Eye,  your  Ear,  your  Understanding  :  To  con- 
ceive the  Pleasure  rising  from  such  Harmony,  you 
must  have  been  present  at  it !  'tis  not  to  be  told 
you ! 

There  cannot  be  a  stronq-er  Proof  of  the  Charms 
of  harmonious  Elocution  than  the  many  even  unnatural 
Scenes  and  Flights  of  the  false  Sublime  it  has  lifted 
into  Applause.  In  what  Raptures  have  I  seen  an 
Audience  at  the  furious  Fustian  and  turgid  Rants  in 
Nat.  Lees  Alexandej^  the  Great !  For  though  I 
can  allow  this  Play  a  few  great  Beauties,  yet  it  is  not 
without  its  extravagant  Blemishes.  Every  Play  of 
the  same  Author  has  more  or  less  of  them.  Let  me 
give  you  a  Sample  from  this.  Alexander,  in  a  full 
crowd  of  Courtiers,  without  being  occasionally  call'd 
or  provok'd  to  it,  falls  into  this  Rhapsody  of  Vain- 

Can  none  remember  f     Yes,  I  know  all  must  I 

And  therefore  they  shall  know  it  agen. 

When  Glory,  like  the  dazzling  Eagle,  stood 
Perch! don  my  Beaver,  hi  the  Granic  Flood, 
When  Fortune  s  Self  my  Standard  trembling  bore. 
And  the  pale  Fates  stood  frighted  on  the  Shore, 
When  the  Immortals  on  the  Billows  rode, 
And  I  myself  appeal^' d  the  leading  God} 

^  "Alexander  the  Great;  or,  the  Rival  Queens,"  act  ii.  sc.  i. 


I06  THE    LIFE    OF 

When  these  flowing  Numbers  came  from  the  Mouth 
of  a  Bettcrton  the  Multitude  no  more  desired  Sense 
to  them  than  our  musical  Connoisseurs  think  it  essen- 
tial in  the  celebrate  Airs  of  an  Italian  Opera.  Does 
not  this  prove  that  there  is  very  near  as  much  En- 
chantment in  the  well-o-overn'd  Voice  of  an  Actor  as 
in  the  sweet  Pipe  of  an  Eunuch  ?  If  I  tell  you  there 
was  no  one  Tragedy,  for  many  Years,  more  in  favour 
with  the  Town  than  Alexander,  to  what  must  we 
impute  this  its  command  of  publick  Admiration  ? 
Not  to  its  intrinsick  Merit,  surely,  if  it  swarms  with 
passages  like  this  I  have  shewn  you  !  If  this  Passage 
has  Merit,  let  us  see  what  Figure  it  would  make  upon 
Canvas,  what  sort  of  Picture  would  rise  from  it.  If 
Le  Bi'-un,  who  was  famous  for  painting  the  Battles  of 
this  Heroe,  had  seen  this  lofty  Description,  what  one 
Image  could  he  have  possibly  taken  from  It  ?  In 
what  Colours  would  he  have  shewn  us  Glory  per cJid 
upon  a  Beaver?  How  would  he  have  drawn Forttute 
trembling?  Or,  indeed,  what  use  could  he  have 
made  oi pale  Fates  or  Immortals  riding  upon  Billows, 
with  this  blustering  God  of  his  own  making  at  the 
head  of  them  ?  ^  Where,  then,  must  have  lain  the 
Charm  that  once  made  the  Publick  so  partial  to  this 

^  Bellchambers  notes  on  this  passage :  "  The  criticisms  of 
Gibber  upon  a  literary  subject  are  hardly  worth  the  trouble  of 
confuting,  and  yet  it  may  be  mentioned  that  Bishop  Warburton 
adduced  these  lines  as  containing  not  only  the  most  subhme,  but 
the  most  judicious  imagery  that  poetry  can  conceive.  If  Le  Brun, 
or  any  other  artist,  could  not  succeed  in  pourtraying  the  terrors  of 
fortune,  it  conveys,  perhaps,  the  highest  possible  compliment  to 


Tragedy  ?  Why  plainly,  in  the  Grace  and  Harmony 
of  the  Actor's  Utterance.  For  the  Actor  himself  is 
not  accountable  for  the  false  Poetry  of  his  Author ; 
That  the  Hearer  is  to  judge  of;  if  it  passes  upon 
him,  the  Actor  can  have  no  Quarrel  to  it ;  who,  if 
the  Periods  given  him  are  round,  smooth,  spirited, 
and  high-sounding,  even  in  a  false  Passion,  must 
throw  out  the  same  Fire  and  Grace  as  may  be  re- 
quired in  one  justly  rising  from  Nature  ;  where  those 
his  Excellencies  will  then  be  only  more  pleasing  in 
proportion  to  the  Taste  of  his  Hearer.  And  I  am 
of  opinion  that  to  the  extraordinary  Success  of  this 
very  Play  we  may  impute  the  Corruption  of  so  many 
Actors  and  Tragick  Writers,  as  were  immediately 
misled  by  it.  The  unskilful  Actor  who  imagin'd  all 
the  Merit  of  delivering  those  blazing  Rants  lay  only 
in  the  Strength  and  strain'd  Exertion  of  the  Voice, 
began  to  tear  his  Lungs  upon  every  false  or  slight 
Occasion  to  arrive  at  the  same  Applause.  And  it  is 
from  hence  I  date  our  having  seen  the  same  Reason 
prevalent  for  above  fifty  Years.  Thus  equally  mis- 
guided, too,  many  a  barren-brain' d  Author  has 
stream'd   into  a    frothy   flowing    Style,    pompously 

rolling  into  sounding  Periods  signifying roundly 

nothing  ;  of  which  Number,  in  some  of  my  former 

the  powers  of  Lee,  to  admit  that  he  has  mastered  a  difificuUy 
beyond  the  most  daring  aspirations  of  an  accompHshed  painter." 
With  all  respect  to  Warburton  and  Bellchambers,  I  cannot  help 
remarking  that  this  last  sentence  seems  to  me  perilously  like 

I08  THE    LIFE    OF 

Labours,  I  am  something  more  than  suspicious  that 
I  may  myself  have  made  one.  But  to  keep  a  Httle 
closer  to  Betterton. 

When  this  favourite  Play  I  am  speaking  of,  from 
its  being  too  frequently  acted,  was  worn  out,  and 
came  to  be  deserted  by  the  Town,  upon  the  sudden 
Death  of  Monfort,  who  had  play'd  Alexander  with 
Success  for  several  Years,  the  Part  was  given  to 
Betterton,  which,  under  this  great  Disadvantage  of 
the  Satiety  it  had  given,  he  immediately  reviv'd  with 
so  new  a  Lustre  that  for  three  Days  together  it  fiU'd 
the  House ;  ^  and  had  his  then  declining  Strength 
been  equal  to  the  Fatigue  the  Action  gave  him,  it 
probably  might  have  doubled  its  Success  ;  an  un- 
common Instance  of  the  Power  and  intrinsick  Merit 
of  an  Actor.  This  I  mention  not  only  to  prove  what 
irresistable  Pleasure  may  arise  from  a  judicious  Elo- 
cution, with  scarce  Sense  to  assist  it ;  but  to  shew 
you  too,  that  tho'  Betterton  never  wanted  Fire  and 
Force  when  his  Character  demanded  it ;  yet,  where 
it  was  not  demanded,  he  never  prostituted  his  Power 
to  the  low  Ambition  of  a  false  Applause.  And  fur- 
ther, that  when,  from  a  too  advanced  Age,  he  resigned 
that  toilsome  Part  of  Alexander,  the  Play  for  many 
Years  after  never  was  able  to  impose  upon  the  Pub- 
lick  ; "  and   I  look  upon  his  so  particularly  support- 

'  I  can  find  no  record  of  this  revival,  nor  am  I  aware  that  any 
other  authority  than  Gibber  mentions  it.  I  am  unable  therefore 
even  to  guess  at  a  date. 

^  In    1706,   in    Betterton's  own  company   at  the    Haymarket 


ing  the  false  Fire  and  Extravagancies  of  that  Cha- 
racter to  be  a  more  surprizing  Proof  of  his  Skill 
than  his  being  eminent  in  those  of  Shakespear ;  be- 
cause there,  Truth  and  Nature  coming  to  his  Assis- 
tance, he  had  not  the  same  Difficulties  to  combat,  and 
consequently  we  must  be  less  amaz'd  at  his  Success 
where  we  are  more  able  to  account  for  it. 

Notwithstanding  the  extraordinary  Power  he 
shew'd  in  blowing  Alexander  once  more  into  a  blaze 
of  Admiration,  Betterton  had  so  just  a  sense  of  what 
was  true  or  false  Applause,  that  I  have  heard  him 
say,  he  never  thought  any  kind  of  it  equal  to  an  atten- 
tive Silence  ;  that  there  were  many  ways  of  deceiving 
an  Audience  into  a  loud  one ;  but  to  keep  them 
husht  and  quiet  was  an  Applause  which  only  Truth 
and  Merit  could  arrive  at :  Of  which  Art  there  never 
was  an  equal  Master  to  himself.  From  these  various 
Excellencies,  he  had  so  full  a  Possession  of  the 
Esteem  and  Regard  of  his  Auditors,  that  upon  his 
Entrance  into  every  Scene  he  seem'd  to  seize  upon 
the  Eyes  and  Ears  of  the  Giddy  and  Inadvertent! 
To  have  talk'd  or  look'd  another  way  would  then 
have  been  thought  Insensibility  or  Ignorance.^  In 
all  his  Soliloquies  of  moment,  the  strong  Intelligence 
of  his  Attitude  and  Aspect  drew  you  into  such  an 
impatient    Gaze   and   eager   Expectation,    that   you 

Verbruggen  played  Alexander.  At  Drury  Lane,  in  1704,  Wilks 
had  played  the  part. 

^  Anthony  Aston  says  that  his  voice  "  enforced  universal  atten- 
tion even  from  the  Fops  and  Orange  girls." 

I  lO  THE    LIFE    OF 

almost  imblb'd  the  Sentiment  with  your  Eye  before 
the  Ear  could  reach  it. 

As  Betterton  is  the  Centre  to  which  all  my  Obser- 
vations upon  Action  tend,  you  will  give  me  leave, 
under  his  Character,  to  enlarge  upon  that  Head.  In 
the  just  Delivery  of  Poetical  Numbers,  particularly 
where  the  Sentiments  are  pathetick,  it  is  scarce  cre- 
dible upon  how  minute  an  Article  of  Sound  depends 
their  greatest  Beauty  or  Inaffection.  The  Voice  of 
a  Singer  is  not  more  strictly  ty'd  to  Time  and  Tune, 
than  that  of  an  Actor  in  Theatrical  Elocution  :  ^  The 
least  Syllable  too  long  or  too  slightly  dwelt  upon  in 
a  Period  depreciates  it  to  nothing ;  which  very  Syl- 
lable if  rightly  touch'd  shall,  like  the  heightening 
Stroke  of  Light  from  a  Master's  Pencil,  give  Life 

*  Anthony  Aston  says  of  Mrs.  Barry  :  "  Neither  she,  nor  any  of 
the  Actors  of  those  Times,  had  any  Tone  in  their  Speaking,  (too 
much,  lately,  in  Use.) "  But  the  line  of  criticism  which  Gibber 
takes  up  here  would  lead  to  the  conclusion  that  Aston  is  not 
strictly  accurate ;  and,  moreover,  I  can  scarcely  imagine  how,  if 
these  older  actors  used  no  "tone,"  the  employment  of  it  should 
have  been  so  general  as  it  certainly  was  a  few  years  after  Better- 
ton's  death.  Victor  ("History,"  ii.  164)  writes  of  "  the  good  old 
Manner  of  singing  and  quavering  out  their  tragic  Notes,"  and  on 
the  same  page  mentions  Gibber's  "  quavering  Tragedy  Tones." 
My  view,  also,  is  confirmed  by  the  facts  that  in  the  preface  to 
"  The  Fairy  Queen,"  1692,  it  is  said:  "he  must  be  a  very  igno- 
rant Player,  who  knows  not  there  is  a  Musical  Gadence  in  speak- 
ing ;  and  that  a  Man  may  as  well  speak  out  of  Tune,  as  sing  out 
of  Tune  ;  "  and  that  Aaron  Hill,  in  his  dedication  of  "  The  Fatal 
Vision,"  1 7 16,  reprobates  the  "  affected,  vicious,  and  unnatural  tone 
of  voice,  so  common  on  the  stage  at  that  time."  See  Genest,  iv.  16- 
17.     An  admirable  description  of  this  method  of  reciting  is  given 


and  Spirit  to  the  whole.  I  never  heard  a  Line  in 
Tragedy  come  from  Betterton  wherein  my  Judgment, 
my  Ear,  and  my  Imagination  were  not  fully  satisfy'd; 
which,  since  his  Time,  I  cannot  equally  say  of  any 
one  Actor  whatsoever :  Not  but  it  is  possible  to  be 
much  his  Inferior,  with  great  Excellencies;  which  I 
shall  observe  in  another  Place.  Had  it  been  practi- 
cable to  have  ty'd  down  the  clattering  Hands  of  all 
the  ill  judges  who  were  commonly  the  Majority 
of  an  Audience,  to  what  amazing  Perfection  might 
the  English  Theatre  have  arrived  with  so  just 
an  Actor  as  Betterton  at  the  Head  of  it!  If  what 
was  Truth  only  could  have  been  applauded,  how 
many  noisy  Actors  had  shook  their  Plumes  with 
shame,  who,  from  the  injudicious  Approbation  of  the 
Multitude,  have  bawl'd  and  strutted  in  the  place  of 
Merit  ?  If  therefore  the  bare  speaking  Voice  has  such 
Allurements  in  it,  how  much  less  ought  we  to  wonder, 
however  we  may  lament,  that  the  sweeter  Notes  of 
Vocal  Musick  should  so  have  captivated  even  the 

by  Cumberland  ("  Memoirs,"  2nd  edition,  i.  80) :  "  Mrs.  Gibber 
in  a  key,  high-pitched  but  sweet  withal,  sung,  or  rather  recitatived 
Rowe's  harmonious  strain,  something  in  the  manner  of  the  Impro- 
visatories  :  it  was  so  extremely  wanting  in  contrast,  that,  though  it 
did  not  wound  the  ear,  it  wearied  it."  Cumberland  is  writing  of 
Mrs.  Cibber  in  the  earlier  part  of  her  career  (1746),  when  the 
teaching  of  her  husband's  father,  Colley  Cibber,  influenced  her 
acting :  no  doubt  Garrick,  who  exploded  the  old  way  of  speaking, 
made  her  ultimately  modify  her  style.  Yet  as  she  was,  even  in 
1746,  a  very  distinguished  pathetic  actress,  we  are  forced  to  the 
conclusion  that  the  old  style  must  have  been  more  effective  than 
we  are  disposed  to  believe. 

I  I  2  THE    LIFE    OF 

politer  World  into  an  Apostacy  from  Sense  to  an 
Idolatry  of  Sound.  Let  us  enquire  from  whence  this 
Enchantment  rises.  I  am  afraid  it  may  be  too  natu- 
rally accounted  for  :  For  when  we  complain  that  the 
finest  Musick,  purchas'd  at  such  vast  Expence,  is  so 
often  thrown  away  upon  the  most  miserable  Poetry, 
we  seem  not  to  consider,  that  when  the  Movement  of 
the  Air  and  Tone  of  the  Voice  are  exquisitely  harmo- 
nious, tho'  we  regard  not  one  Word  of  what  we  hear, 
yet  the  Power  of  the  Melody  is  so  busy  in  the  Heart, 
that  we  naturally  annex  Ideas  to  it  of  our  own  Crea- 
tion, and,  in  some  sort,  become  our  selves  the  Poet 
to  the  Composer ;  and  what  Poet  is  so  dull  as  not  to 
be  charm'd  with  the  Child  of  his  own  Fancy  ?  So 
that  there  is  even  a  kind  of  Language  in  agreeable 
Sounds,  which,  like  the  Aspect  of  Beauty,  without 
Words  speaks  and  plays  with  the  Imagination. 
While  this  Taste  therefore  is  so  naturally  prevalent, 
I  doubt  to  propose  Remedies  for  it  were  but  giving 
Laws  to  the  Winds  or  Advice  to  Inamorato's  :  And 
however  gravely  we  may  assert  that  Profit  ought 
always  to  be  inseparable  from  the  Delight  of  the 
Theatre  ;  nay,  admitting  that  the  Pleasure  would  be 
heighten'd  by  the  uniting  them  ;  yet,  while  Instruc- 
tion is  so  little  the  Concern  of  the  Auditor,  how  can 
we  hope  that  so  choice  a  Commodity  will  come  to  a 
Market  where  there  is  so  seldom  a  Demand  for  it  ? 

It  is  not  to  the  Actor,  therefore,  but  to  the  vitiated 
and  low  Taste  of  the  Spectator,  that  the  Corruptions 
of  the  Stage  (of  what  kind  soever)  have  been  owing. 


If  the  Publick,  by  whom  they  must  Hve,  had  Spirit 
enouoh  to  discountenance  and  declare  aorainst  all  the 
Trash  and  Fopperies  they  have  been  so  frequently 
fond  of,  both  the  Actors  and  the  Authors,  to  the 
best  of  their  Power,  must  naturally  have  serv'd  their 

daily  Table  with  sound  and  wholesome  Diet.^ 

But  I  have  not  yet  done  with  my  Article  of  Elocution. 

As  we  have  sometimes  great  Composers  of  Musick 
who  cannot  sing,  we  have  as  frequently  great  Writers 
that  cannot  read  ;  and  though  without  the  nicest  Ear 
no  Man  can  be  Master  of  Poetical  Numbers,  yet  the 
best  Ear  in  the  World  will  not  always  enable  him  to 
pronounce  them.  Of  this  Truth  Dryden,  our  first 
great  Master  of  Verse  and  Harmony,  was  a  strong 
Instance  :  When  he  brought  his  Play  of  Amphyt7don 
to  the  Stage,^  I  heard  him  give  it  his  first  Reading 
to  the  Actors,  in  which,  though  it  is  true  he  deliver'd 
the  plain  Sense  of  every  Period,  yet  the  whole  was 
in  so  cold,  so  flat,  and  unaffecting  a  manner,  that  I 
am  afraid  of  not  being  believ'd  when  I  afiirm  it. 

On  the  contrary,  Lee,  far  his  inferior  in  Poetry, 
was  so  pathetick  a  Reader  of  his  own  Scenes,  that  I 
have  been  inform'd  by  an  Actor  who  was  present, 

^  As  Dr.  Johnson  puts  it  in  his  famous  Prologue  (1747) : — 

"  Ah  !  let  no  Censure  term  our  Fate  our  Choice, 
The  Stage  but  echoes  back  the  public  Voice ; 
The  Drama's  Laws  the  Drama's  Patrons  give, 
For  we,  that  live  to  please,  must  please  to  live." 

^  "  Amphytrion  "  was  played  in  1690.  The  Dedication  is  dated 
24th  October,  1690. 

I  14  THE    LIFE    OF 

that  while  Lee  was  reading  to  Major  Mo/mn  at  a 
Rehearsal,  Mo/mn,  in  the  Warmth  of  his  Admiration, 
threw  down  his  Part  and  said,  Unless  I  were  able  to 
play  it  as  well  as  you  7^ead  it,  to  what  purpose  should 
I  undertake  it?  And  yet  this  very  Author,  whose 
Elocution  rais'd  such  Admiration  in  so  capital  an 
Actor,  when  he  attempted  to  be  an  Actor  himself, 
soon  quitted  the  Stage  inran  honest  Despair  of  ever 
making  any  profitable  Figure  there. ^  From  all  this 
I  would  infer,  That  let  our  Conception  of  what  we 
are  to  speak  be  ever  so  just,  and  the  Ear  ever  so 
true,  yet,  when  we  are  to  deliver  it  to  an  Audience 
(I  will  leave  Fear  out  of  the  question)  there  must 
go  along  with  the  whole  a  natural  Freedom  and  be- 
cominof  Grace,  which  is  easier  to  conceive  than  to 
describe  :  For  without  this  inexpressible  Somewhat 
the  Performance  will  come  out  oddly  disguis'd,  or 
somewhere  defectively  unsurprizing  to  the  Hearer. 
Of  this  Defect,  too,  I  will  give  you  yet  a  stranger 
Instance,  which  you  will  allow  Fear  could  not  be  the 
Occasion  of :  If  you  remember  Estcourt^  you  must 
have  known  that  he  was  long  enough  upon  the  Stage 
not  to  be  under  the  least  Restraint  from  Fear  in  his 
Performance  :  This  Man  was  so  amazing  and  extra- 

^  Downes  ("Roscius  Anglicanus,"  p.  34)  relates  Lee's  mis- 
adventure, which  he  attributes  to  stage-fright.  He  says  of  Otway 
the  poet,  that  on  his  first  appearance  ^^  the  full  House  ptit  him  to 
such  a  Sweat  and  Tremendous  Agony,  being  das  Jit,  spoilt  him  for  an 
Actor.  Mr.  Nat.  Lee,  had  the  same  Fate  in  Acting  Duncan  //; 
Macbeth,  ruhid  him  for  an  Actor  too." 

^  See  memoir  of  Estcourt  at  end  of  second  volume. 


ordinary  a  Mimick,  that  no  Man  or  Woman,  from  the 
Coquette  to  the  Privy-Counsellor,  ever  mov'd  or 
spoke  before  him,  but  he  could  carry  their  Voice, 
Look,  Mien,  and  Motion,  instantly  into  another 
Company  :  I  have  heard  him  make  long  Harangues 
and  form  various  Arguments,  even  in  the  manner  of 
thinking  of  an  eminent  Pleader  at  the  Bar,^  with 
every  the  least  Article  and  Singularity  of  his  Utter- 
ance so  perfectly  imitated,  that  he  was  the  very  alter 
ipse,  scarce  to  be  distinguish'd  from  his  Original. 
Yet  more ;  I  have  seen  upon  the  Margin  of  the 
written  Part  of  Falstaff  which  he  acted,  his  own 
Notes  and  Observations  upon  almost  every  Speech  of 
it,  describing  the  true  Spirit  of  the  Humour,  and  with 
what  Tone  of  Voice,  Look,  and  Gesture,  each  of 
them  ought  to  be  delivered.  Yet  in  his  Execution 
upon  the  Stage  he  seem'd  to  have  lost  all  those  just 
Ideas  he  had  form'd  of  it,  and  almost  thro'  the 
Character  labour'd  under  a  heavy  Load  of  Flatness  : 
In  a  word,  with  all  his  Skill  in  Mimickry  and  Know- 
ledge of  what  ought  to  be  done,  he  never  upon  the 
Stage  could  bring  it  truly  into  Practice,  but  was  upon 
the  whole  a  languid,  unaffecting  Actor.^      After  I 

^  It  will  be  remembered  that  the  Elder  Mathews,  the  most 
extraordinary  mimic  of  modern  times,  had  this  same  power  in 
great  perfection.     See  his  "Memoirs,"  iii.  153-156. 

^  Gibber  has  been  charged  with  gross  unfairness  to  Estcourt, 
and  his  unfavourable  estimate  of  him  has  been  attributed  to  envy; 
but  Estcourt's  ability  seems  to  have  been  at  least  questionable. 
This  matter  will  be  found  treated  at  some  length  in  the  memoir 
of  Estcourt  in  the  Appendix  to  this  work. 

Il6  THE    LIFE    OF 

have  shewn  you  so  many  necessary  Qualifications, 
not  one  of  which  can  be  spar'd  in  true  Theatrical 
Elocution,  and  have  at  the  same  time  prov'd  that 
with  the  Assistance  of  them  all  united,  the  whole 
may  still  come  forth  defective  ;  what  Talents  shall 
we  say  will  infallibly  form  an  Actor  ?  This  I  confess 
is  one  of  Nature's  Secrets,  too  deep  for  me  to  dive 
into  ;  let  us  content  our  selves  therefore  with  affirm- 
ing". That  Genius,  which  Nature  only  gives,  only  can 
complete  him.  This  Geiiius  then  was  so  strong  in 
Beiierlou,  that  it  shone  out  in  every  Speech  and 
Motion  of  him.  Yet  Voice  and  Person  are  such 
necessary  Supports  to  it,  that  by  the  Multitude 
they  have  been  preferr'd  to  Genius  itself,  or  at  least 
often  mistaken  for  it.  Betierton  had  a  Voice  of  that 
kind  which  gave  more  Spirit  to  Terror  than  to  the 
softer  Passions ;  of  more  Strength  than  Melody.^ 
The  Rage  and  Jealousy  of  Othello  became  him  better 
than  the  Sighs  and  Tenderness  of  Castalio :  ^  For 
though  in  Castalio  he  only  excell'd  others,  in  Othello 
he  excell'd  himself ;  which  you  will  easily  believe 
when  you  consider  that,  in  spite  of  his  Complexion, 
Othello  has  more  natural  Beauties  than  the  best 
Actor  can  find  in  all  the  Magazine  of  Poetry  to 
animate  his  Power  and  delight  his  Judgment  with. 

The  Person  of  this  excellent  Actor  was  suitable  to 
his  Voice,  more  manly  than  sweet,  not  exceeding  the 

^  "  His  voice  was  low  and  grumbling." — Anthony  Aston. 
^  In  Otway's  tragedy  of  "  The  Orphan,"  produced  at  Dorset 
Garden  in  1680,  Betterton  was  the  original  Castalio. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  I  I  7 

middle  Stature,  inclining  to  the  corpulent ;  of  a 
serious  and  penetrating  Aspect ;  his  Limbs  nearer 
the  athletick  than  the  delicate  Proportion  ;  yet  how- 
ever form'd,  there  arose  from  the  Harmony  of  the 
whole  a  commanding  Mien  of  Majesty,  which  the 
fairer-fac'd  or  (as  Shakespear  calls  'em)  the  curled 
Darlings  of  his  Time  ever  wanted  something  to  be 
equal  Masters  of.  There  was  some  Years  ago  to  be 
had,  almost  in  every  Print-shop,  a  Metzotinto  from 
Kneller,  extremely  like  him.^ 

In  all  I  have  said  oi  Bettei'ton,  I  confine  myself  to 
the  Time  of  his  Strength  and  highest  Power  in 
Action,  that  you  may  make  Allowances  from  what 
he  was  able  to  execute  at  Fifty,  to  what  you  might 
have  seen  of  him  at  past  Seventy  ;  for  tho'  to  the 
last  he  was  without  his  Equal,  he  might  not  then  be 
equal  to  his  former  Self;  yet  so  far  was  he  from 
being  ever  overtaken,  that  for  many  Years  after  his 
Decease  I  seldom  saw  any  of  his  Parts  in  Shake- 
spear supply'd  by  others,  but  it  drew  from  me  the 
Lamentation  of  Ophelia  upon  Hamlefs,  being  unlike 
what  she  had  seen  him. 

-Ah  !  woe  is  me  ! 

T'have  seen  what  I  have  seen,  see  ivhat  I  see  ! 

The  last  Part  this  great  Master  of  his  Profession 
acted  was  Melantius  in  the  Maid's  Tragedy,  for  his 
own    Benefit  ;^    when  being  suddenly  seiz'd   by  the 

'  See  memoir  of  Betterton  at  end  of  second  volume. 
'■'   13th  April,  1710. 

Il8  THE   LIFE    OF    MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER. 

Gout,  he  submitted,  by  extraordinary  Applications,  to 
have  his  Foot  so  far  reliev'd  that  he  might  be  able 
to  walk  on  the  Stage  in  a  Slipper,  rather  than  wholly 
disappoint  his  Auditors.  He  was  observ'd  that  Day 
to  have  exerted  a  more  than  ordinary  Spirit,  and 
met  with  suitable  Applause  ;  but  the  unhappy  Conse- 
quence of  tampering  with  his  Distemper  was,  that  it 
flew  into  his  Head,  and  kill'd  him  in  three  Days,  (I 
think)  in  the  seventy-fourth  Year  of  his  Age.^ 

I  once  thought  to  have  fill'd  up  my  Work  with  a 
select  Dissertation  upon  Theatrical  Action,^  but  I 
find,  by  the  Digressions  I  have  been  tempted  to  make 
in  this  Account  of  Betterton,  that  all  I  can  say  upon 
that  Head  will  naturally  fall  in,  and  possibly  be  less 
tedious  if  dispers'd  among  the  various  Characters  of 
the  particular  Actors  I  have  promis'd  to  treat  of ;  I 
shall  therefore  make  use  of  those  several  Vehicles, 
which  you  will  find  waiting  in  the  next  Chapter,  to 
carry  you  thro'  the  rest  of  the  Journey  at  your 

'  In  the  "Tatler,"  No.  167,  in  which  the  famous  criticism  of 
Betterton's  excellencies  is  given,  his  funeral  is  stated  to  have  taken 
place  on  2nd  May,  17 10. 

^  I  do  not  know  whether  Gibber  in  making  this  remark  had  in 
view  Gildon's  Life  of  Betterton,  in  which  there  are  twenty  pages 
of  memoir  to  one  hundred  and  fifty  of  dissertation  on  acting. 

it  |lli'''lllllt|illl;Jl|llk| 


The  Theatrical  Characters  of  the  Principal  Actors  in  the  Year  1690, 


A  few  Words  to  Critical  Auditors. 

THO',  as  I  have  before  observ'd,  Women  were  not 
admitted  to  the  Staofe  'till  the  Return  of  King; 
Charles,  yet  it  could  not  be  so  suddenly  supply'd 
with  them  but  that  there  was  still  a  Necessity,  for 
some  time,  to  put  the  handsomest  young  Men  into 
Petticoats;^  which  ICynasto7t  wtis  then  said  to  have 

'  This  seems  to  have  been  done  to  a  very  limited  extent.  The 
first  unquestionable  date  on  which,  after  1660,  women  appeared 
is  3rd  January,  1661,  when  Pepys  saw  "The  Beggar's  Bush"  at 
the  Theatre,  that  is,  Killigrew's  house,  and  notes,  "  and  here  the 

I20  THE   LIFE    OF 

worn  with  Success ;  particularly  in  the  Part  of  Evadne 
in  the  Maid's  Tragedy,  which  I  have  heard  him 
speak  of,  and  which  calls  to  my  Mind  a  ridiculous 
Distress  that  arose  from  these  sort  of  Shifts  which 

the  Stage  was  then  put  to. The  King  coming  a 

little  before  his  usual  time  to  a  Tragedy,  found  the 
Actors  not  ready  to  begin,  when  his  Majesty,  not 
chusing  to  have  as  much  Patience  as  his  good  Sub- 
jects, sent  to  them  to  know  the  Meaning  of  it ;  upon 
which  the  Master  of  the  Company  came  to  the  Box, 
and  rightly  judging  that  the  best  Excuse  for  their 
Default  would  be  the  true  one,  fairly  told  his  Majesty 
that  the  Queen  was  not  shavd  yet  :  The  King,  whose 
orood  Humour  lov'd  to  lauorh  at  a  Test  as  well  as  to 
make  one,  accepted  the  Excuse,  which  serv'd  to 
divert  him  till  the  male  Queen  cou'd  be  effeminated. 
In  a  word,  Kynaston  at  that  time  was  so  beautiful  a 
Youth  that  the  Ladies  of  Quality  prided  themselves 

first  time  that  ever  I  saw  women  come  upon  the  stage."  At  the 
same  theatre  he  had  seen  the  same  play  on  20th  November,  1660, 
the  female  parts  being  then  played  by  men.  Thomas  Jordan 
wrote  "  A  Prologue,  to  introduce  the  first  woman  that  came  to  act  on 
the  stage,  in  the  tragedy  called  The  Moor  of  Venice  "  (quoted  by 
Malone,  "  Shakespeare,"  182 1,  iii.  128),  and  Malone  supposes 
justly  as  I  think,  that  this  was  on  8th  December,  1660 ;  on  which 
date,  in  all  probability,  the  first  woman  appeared  on  the  stage  after 
the  Restoration.  Who  she  was  we  do  not  know.  See  a^ite,  p,  90. 
On  7th  January,  1661,  Kynaston  played  Epicoene  in  "The  Silent 
Woman,"  and  on  12th  January,  1661,  Pepys  saw  "The  Scornful 
Lady,"  "  now  done  by  a  woman."  On  the  4th  of  the  same  month 
Pepys  had  seen  the  latter  play  with  a  man  in  the  chief  part,  so 
that  it  is  almost  certain  that  the  "  boy-actresses "  disappeared 
about  the  beginning  of  1661. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  12  1 

in  taking  him  with  them  in  their  Coaches  to  Hyde- 
Park  in  his  Theatrical  Habit,  after  the  Play ;  which 
in  those  Days  they  might  have  sufficient  time  to  do, 
because  Plays  then  were  us'd  to  begin  at  foura-Clock  : 
The  Hour  that  People  of  the  same  Rank  are  now 
going  to  Dinner. Of  this  Truth  I  had  the  Curio- 
sity to  enquire,  and  had  it  confirm'd  from  his  own 
Mouth  in  his  advanc'd  Age  :  And  indeed,  to  the  last 
of  him,  his  Handsomeness  was  very  little  abated  ; 
even  at  past  Sixty  his  Teeth  were  all  sound,  white, 
and  even,  as  one  would  wish  to  see  in  a  reienine 
Toast  of  Twenty.  He  had  something  of  a  formal 
Gravity  in  his  Mien,  which  was  attributed  to  the 
stately  Step  he  had  been  so  early  confin'd  to,  in 
a  female  Decency.  But  even  that  in  Characters  of 
Superiority  had  its  proper  Graces  ;  it  misbecame 
him  not  in  the  Part  of  Leon,  in  Fletchers  Rtde  a 
Wife,  &c.  which  he  executed  with  a  determin'd 
Manliness  and  honest  Authority  well  worth  the  best 
Actor's  Imitation.  He  had  a  piercing  Eye,  and  in 
Characters  of  heroick  Life  a  quick  imperious  Vivacity 
in  his  Tone  of  Voice  that  painted  the  Tyrant  truly 
terrible.  There  were  two  Plays  of  Diyden  in  which 
he  shone  with  uncommon  Lustre  ;  in  Ati7'-e7ige-Zebe 
he  play'd  Moral,  and  in  Don  Sebastian,  Mulcy 
Moloch;  in  both  these  Parts  he  had  a  fierce.  Lion- 
like Majesty  in  his  Port  and  Utterance  that  gave  the 
Spectator  a  kind  of  trembling  Admiration  ! 

Here  I  cannot  help  observing  upon  a  modest  Mis- 
take which  I  thought  the  late  Mr.  Booth  committed 

122  THE    LIFE   OF 

in  his  acting  the  Part  of  Moral.  There  are  in  this 
fierce  Character  so  many  Sentiments  of  avow'd  Bar- 
barity, Insolence,  and  Vain-glory,  that  they  blaze 
even  to  a  ludicrous  Lustre,  and  doubtless  the  Poet 
intended  those  to  make  his  Spectators  laugh  while 
they  admir'd  them  ;  but  Booth  thought  it  depreciated 
the  Dignity  of  Tragedy  to  raise  a  Smile  in  any  part 
of  it,  and  therefore  cover'd  these  kind  of  Sentiments 
with  a  scrupulous  Coldness  and  unmov'd  Delivery, 
as  if  he  had  fear'd  the  Audience  might  take  too 
familiar  a  notice  of  them/  In  Mr.  Addisoiis  Cato, 
Syphax"^  has  some  Sentiments  of  near  the  same  nature, 

^  "  The  Laureat "  (p.  33)  :  "  I  am  of  Opinion,  Booth  was  not 
wrong  in  this.  There  are  many  of  the  Sentiments  in  this  Character, 
where  Nature  and  common  Sense  are  outraged ;  and  an  Actor, 
who  shou'd  give  the  full  comic  Utterance  to  them  in  his  Delivery, 
would  raise  what  they  call  a  Horse-Laugh,  and  turn  it  into 

On  the  other  hand,  Theophilus  Gibber,  in  his  Life  of  Booth, 
p.  72,  supports  his  father's  opinion,  saying  : — 

"The  Remark  is  just — Mr.  Booth  would  sometimes  slur  over 
such  bold  Sentiments,  so  flightily  delivered  by  the  Poet.  As  he 
was  good-natured — and  would  '  hear  each  Man's  Censure,  yet 
reserve  his  Judgment,' — I  once  took  the  Liberty  of  observing,  that 
he  had  neglected  (as  I  thought)  giving  that  kind  of  spirited  Turn 
in  the  afore-mentioned  Character — He  told  me  I  was  mistaken ; 
it  was  not  Negligence,  but  Design  made  him  so  slightly  pass  them 
over : — For  though,  added  he,  in  these  places  one  might  raise  a 
Laugh  of  Approbation  in  a  few, — yet  there  is  nothing  more  unsafe 
than  exciting  the  Laugh  of  Simpletons,  who  never  know  when  or 
where  to  stop  ;  and,  as  the  Majority  are  not  always  the  wisest 
Part  of  an  Audience, — I  don't  chuse  to  run  the  hazard." 

^  A  long  account  of  the  production  of  "Cato"  is  given  by 
Cibber  in  Chap.  XIV.  From  the  cast  quoted  in  a  note,  it  will  be 
seen  that  Cibber  himself  was  the  original  Syphax. 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 23 

which  I  ventur'd  to  speak  as  I  imagin'd  Kynaston 
would  have  done  had  he  been  then  livine  to  have 
stood  in  the  same  Character.  Mr.  Addison,  who  had 
something  of  Mr.  Boot/is  Diffidence  at  the  Rehearsal 
of  his  Play,  after  it  was  acted  came  into  my  Opinion, 
and  own'd  that  even  Tragedy  on  such  particular 
Occasions  might  admit  of  a  Laugh  of  Approbation} 
In  Shakespear  Instances  of  them  are  frequent,  as  in 
Mackbeth,  Hotspur,  Richard  the  Third,  and  Ha7'ry 
the  Eighth}  all  which  Characters,  tho'  of  a  tragical 

^  "  The  Laureat  "  (p.  33) :  "  I  have  seen  the  Origmal  Syphax  in 
Cato,  use  many  ridiculous  Distortions,  crack  in  his  Voice,  and 
wreathe  his  Muscles  and  his  Limbs,  which  created  not  a  Smile  of 
Approbation,  but  a  loud  Laugh  of  Contempt  and  Ridicule  on  the 
Actor."  On  page  34  :  "  In  my  Opinion,  the  Part  of  Syphax,  as  it 
was  originally  play'd,  was  the  only  Part  in  Cato  not  tolerably 

^  Bellchambers  on  this  passage  has  one  of  those  aggravating 
notes,  in  which  he  seems  to  try  to  blacken  Gibber  as  much  as 
possible.  I  confess  that  I  can  see  nothing  of  the  "  venom " 
he  resents  so  vigorously.     He  says  : — 

"  Theophilus  Gibber,  in  the  tract  already  quoted,  expressly 
states,  that  Booth  *  was  not  so  scrupulously  nice  or  timerous '  in 
this  character,  as  in  that  to  which  our  author  has  invidiously  re- 
ferred. I  shall  give  the  passage,  for  its  powerful  antidote  to 
Colley's  venom : — 

'Mr.  Booth,  in  this  part,  though  he  gave  full  Scope  to  the 
Humour,  never  dropped  the  Dignity  of  the  Character — You 
laughed  at  Henry,  but  lost  not  your  Respect  for  him. — When  he 
appeared  most  familiar,  he  was  by  no  means  vulgar. — The  People 
most  about  him  felt  the  Ease  they  enjoyed  was  owing  to  his  Con- 
descension.— He  maintained  the  Monarch. — Haiis  Holbein  never 
gave  a  higher  Picture  of  him  than  did  the  actor  {Booth)  in  his 
Representation.  When  angry,  his  Eye  spoke  majestic  Terror; 
the  noblest  and  the  bravest  of  his  Courtiers  were  awe-struck — He 

124  '^^^    ^^^^   ^^ 

Cast,  have  sometimes  familiar  Strokes  in  them  so 
highly  natural  to  each  particular  Disposition,  that  it 
is  impossible  not  to  be  transported  into  an  honest 
Laughter  at  them  :  And  these  are  those  happy 
Liberties  which,  tho'  few  Authors  are  qualify'd  to 
take,  yet,  when  justly  taken,  may  challenge  a  Place 
among  their  greatest  Beauties.     Now,  whether  Dij- 

den,  in    his  Moral,  feliciter  Audet^ or  may  be 

allow'd  the  Happiness  of  having  hit  this  Mark,  seems 
not  necessary  to  be  determin'd  by  the  Actor,  whose 
Business,  sure,  is  to  make  the  best  of  his  Author's 
Intention,  as  in  this  Part  Kynaston  did,  doubtless 
not  without  Drydens  Approbation.  For  these 
Reasons  then,  I  thought  my  good  Friend,  Mr.  Booth 
(who  certainly  had  many  Excellencies)  carry'd  his 
Reverence  for  the  Buskin  too  far,  in  not  following 
the  bold  Flights  of  the  Author  with  that  Wantonness 
of  Spirit  which  the  Nature  of  those  Sentiments  de- 
manded :  For  Example  1  Moral  having  a  criminal 
Passion  for  Indamora,  promises,  at  her  Request,  for 
one  Day  to  spare  the  Life  of  her  Lover  Aurenge- 
Zebe:  But  not  chusing  to  make  known  the  real 
Motive  of  his  Mercy,  when  Notunjiahal  says  to  him, 

'  Twill  7iot  be  safe  to  lei  him  live  an  Hour  ! 

gave  you  the  full  Idea  of  that  arbitrary  Prince,  who  thought  him- 
self born  to  be  obeyed  ; — the  boldest  dared  not  to  dispute  his 
Commands  : — He  appeared  to  claim  a  Right  Divine  to  exert  the 
Power  he  imperiously  assumed.'  (p.  75)." 

*  •'  Spirat  Tragicum  satis  et  feliciter  audet." 

Hor.  Epis.  ii.  i,  166. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  I  25 

Moi'at  silences  her  with  this  heroical  Rhodomoiitadey 

ril  ddt,  to  shew  my  Arbitrary  Power} 
Risum  teneatis  f  It  was  impossible  not  to  laugh 
and  reasonably  too,  when  this  Line  came  out  of  the 
Mouth  of  Kynaston^  with  the  stern  and  haughty- 
Look  that  attended  it.  But  above  this  tyrannical, 
tumid  Superiority  of  Character  there  is  a  grave  and 
rational  Majesty  in  Shakespeare  Har^y  the  Fourth, 
which,  tho'  not  so  glaring  to  the  vulgar  Eye,  requires 
thrice  the  Skill  and  Grace  to  become  and  support. 
Of  this  real  Majesty  Kynaston  was  entirely  Master  ; 
here  every  Sentiment  came  from  him  as  if  it  had 
been  his  own,  as  if  he  had  himself  that  instant  con- 
ceiv'd  it,  as  if  he  had  lost  the  Player  and  were 
the  real  King  he  personated  !  a  Perfection  so  rarely 
found,  that  very  often,  in  Actors  of  good  Repute,  a 
certain  Vacancy  of  Look,  Inanity  of  Voice,  or  super- 
fluous Gesture,  shall  unmask  the  Man  to  the  judicious 
Spectator,  who,  from  the  least  of  those  Errors,  plainly 
sees  the  whole  but  a  Lesson  given  him  to  be  got  by 
Heart  from  some  great  Author  whose  Sense  is  deeper 
than  the  Repeater's  Understanding.  This  true  Ma- 
jesty Kynaston  had  so  entire  a  Command  of,  that 
when  he  whisper'd  the  following  plain  Line  to 

Send  us  your  Prisoners,  or  yotill  hear  of  it !  ^ 

'  "  Aurenge-Zebe  ;  or,  the  Great  Mogul,"  act  iv. 
■^  Kynaston  was  the  original  Morat  at  the  Theatre   Royal   in 
1675  ;  Hart  the  Aurenge-Zebe. 
^  "  King  Henry  IV.,"  First  Part,  act  i.  sc,  3. 


THE    LIFE    OF 

He  convey'd  a  more  terrible  Menace  in  it  than  the 
loudest  Intemperance  of  Voice  could  swell  to.  But 
let  the  bold  Imitator  beware,  for  without  the  Look 
and  just  Elocution  that  waited  on  it  an  Attempt  of 
the  same  nature  may  fall  to  nothing. 

But  the  Dignity  of  this  Character  appear'd  in 
Kynaston  still  more  shining  in  the  private  Scene 
between  the  King  and  Prince  his  Son  :  There  you 
saw  Majesty  in  that  sort  of  Grief  which  only  Majesty 
could  feel !  there  the  paternal  Concern  for  the  Errors 
of  the  Son  made  the  Monarch  more  rever'd  and 
dreaded  :  His  Reproaches  so  just,  yet  so  unmix'd 
with  Anger  (and  therefore  the  more  piercing)  open- 
ing as  it  were  the  Arms  of  Nature  with  a  secret 
Wish,  that  filial  Duty  and  Penitence  awak'd,  might 
fall  into  them  with  Grace  and  Honour.  In  this 
affecting  Scene  I  thought  Kynaston  shew'd  his  most 
masterly  Strokes  of  Nature  ;  expressing  all  the 
various  Motions  of  the  Heart  with  the  same  Force, 
Dignity  and  Feeling,  they  are  written  ;  adding  to 
the  whole  that  peculiar  and  becoming  Grace  which 
the  best  Writer  cannot  inspire  into  any  Actor  that  is 
not  born  with  it.  What  made  the  Merit  of  this 
Actor  and  that  of  Bdterton  more  surprizing,  was 
that  though  they  both  observ'd  the  Rules  of  Truth 
and  Nature,  they  were  each  as  different  in  their 
manner  of  acting  as  in  their  personal  Form  and 
Features.  But  Kynaston  staid  too  long  upon  the 
Stage,  till  his  Memory  and  Spirit  began  to  fail  him. 
I  shall  not  therefore  say  any  thing  of  his  Imperfec- 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  12/ 

tions,  which,  at  that  time,  were  visibly  not  his  own, 
but  the  Effects  of  decaying  Nature.^ 

Monfort'^  a  younger  Man"  by  twenty  Years,  and 
at  this  time  in  his  highest  Reputation,  was  an  Actor 
of  a  very  different  Style  :  Of  Person  he  was  tall, 
well  made,  fair,  and  of  an  agreeable  Aspect:  His 
Voice  clear,  full,  and  melodious  :  In  Tragedy  he  was 
the  most  affecting  Lover  within  my  Memory.  His 
Addresses  had  a  resistless  Recommendation  from 
the  very  Tone  of  his  Voice,  which  gave  his  Words 
such  Softness  that,  as  Drydcn  says, 

Like  Flakes  of  feathered  Snow, 

They  melted  as  they  fell  I  ^ 

All  this  he  particularly  verify'd  in  that  Scene  of 
Alexander,  where  the  Heroe  throws  himself  at  the 
Feet  of  Statira  for  Pardon  of  his  past  Infidelities. 
There  we  saw  the  Great,  the  Tender,  the  Penitent, 
the  Despairing,  the  Transported,  and  the  Amiable, 
in  the  highest  Perfection.  In  Comedy  he  gave  the 
truest  Life  to  what  we  call  the  Fine  Gentleman ;  his 
Spirit  shone  the  brighter  for  being  polish'd  with 
Decency :  In  Scenes  of  Gaiety  he  never  broke  into 
the  Regard  that  was  due  to  the  Presence  of  equal 
or  superior  Characters,  tho'  inferior  Actors  play'd 
them  ;  he  fill'd  the  Stage,  not  by  elbowing  and  cross- 
ing it  before  others,  or  disconcerting  their  Action, 
but  by  surpassing  them  in  true  masterly  Touches  of 

'  See  memoir  of  Kynaston  at  end  of  second  volume. 

*  Downes  spells  Mountfort's  name  Monfort  and  MounforL 

'  "Spanish  Friar,"  act  ii.  sc.  i. 

128  THE    LIFE    OF 

Nature.  He  never  laugh'd  at  his  own  Jest,  unless 
the  Point  of  his  Raillery  upon  another  requir  d  it. — 
He  had  a  particular  Talent  in  giving  Life  to  bons 
Mots  and  Repartees :  The  Wit  of  the  Poet  seem'd 
always  to  come  from  him  extemp07'e,  and  sharpen'd 
into  more  Wit  from  his  brillant  manner  of  delivering 
it ;  he  had  himself  a  good  Share  of  it,  or  what  is 
equal  to  it,  so  lively  a  Pleasantness  of  Humour,  that 
when  either  of  these  fell  into  his  Hands  upon  the 
Stage,  he  wantoned  with  them  to  the  highest  Delight 
of  his  Auditors.  The  agreeable  was  so  natural  to 
him,  that  even  in  that  dissolute  Character  of  the 
Rover''  he  seem'd  to  wash  off  the  Guilt  from  Vice, 
and  gave  it  Charms  and  Merit.  For  tho'  it  may  be 
a  Reproach  to  the  Poet  to  draw  such  Characters  not 
only  unpunish'd  but  rewarded,  the  Actor  may  still 
be  allow'd  his  due  Praise  in  his  excellent  Perfor- 
mance. And  this  is  a  Distinction  which,  when  this 
Comedy  was  acted  at  Whitehall,  King  Williams 
Queen  Mary  was  pleas'd  to  make  in  favour  of  Mon- 
fort,  notwithstanding  her  Disapprobation  of  the  Play. 
He  had,  besides  all  this,  a  Variety  in  his  Genius 
which  few  capital  Actors  have  shewn,  or  perhaps 
have  thought  it  any  Addition  to  their  Merit  to  arrive 
at;  he  could  entirely  change  himself;  could  at  once 
throw  off  the  Man  of  Sense  for  the  brisk,  vain,  rude, 
and  lively  Coxcomb,  the  false,  flashy  Pretender  to 
Wit,    and    the    Dupe    of   his  own  Sufficiency :    Of 

^  Willmore,  in  Mrs.  Behn's  "  Rover,"  of  which  Smith  was  the 
original  representative. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  I  29 

this  he  o-ave  a  deligfhtful  Instance  in  the  Character  of 
Sparkish  in  Wycherlys  Country   Wife.     In   that  of 
Sir  Couj'tly  Nice^  his  Excellence  was  still  greater  : 
There   his  whole  Man,  Voice,   Mien,   and   Gesture 
was  no  longer  Monfort,  but  another  Person.     There, 
the    insipid,    soft  Civility,  the  elegant   and   formal 
Mien,  the  drawling  Delicacy  of  Voice,  the  stately 
Flatness  of  his  Address,  and  the  empty  Eminence  of 
his  Attitudes  were  so  nicely  observ'd  and  guarded 
by  him,  that  he  had  not  been  an  entire  Master  of 
Nature  had  he  not  kept  his  Judgment,  as  it  were,  a 
Centinel  upon  himself,  not  to  admit  the  least  Like- 
ness of  what  he  us'd  to  be  to  enter  into  any  Part  of 
his  Performance,  he  could  not  possibly  have  so  com- 
pfetely  finish'd  it.      If,  some  Years  after  the  Death  of 
Monfort,  I  my  self  had  any  Success  in  either  of  these 
Characters,    I    must   pay    the    Debt    I    owe   to   his 
Memory,   in  confessing  the  Advantages   I   receiv'd 
from  the  just  Idea  and  strong  Impression   he  had 
given    me   from    his    acting    them.     Had   he    been 
remember'd  when  I  first  attempted  them  my  Defects 
would  have  been  more  easily  discover'd,  and  conse- 
quently my  favourable  Reception  in  them  must  have 
been  very  much  and  justly  abated.      If  it  could  be 
remembred  how  much  he  had  the  Advantage  of  me 
in  Voice  and  Person,  I  could  not  here  be  suspected 
of  an  affected  Modesty  or  of  over-valuing  his  Excel- 
lence :  For  he  sung  a  clear  Counter-tenour,  and  had 

•  In  Crowne's  "  Sir  Courtly  Nice,"  produced  at  the  Theatre 
Royal  in  1685. 

130  THE    LIFE    OF 

a  melodious,  warbling  Throat,  which  could  not  but 
set  off  the  last  Scene  of  Sir  Coiirtly  with  an  uncom- 
mon Happiness  ;  which  I,  alas  !  could  only  struggle 
thro'  with  the  faint  Excuses  and  real  Confidence  of 
a  fine  Singer  under  the  Imperfection  of  a  feign'd  and 
screaming  Trebble,  which  at  best  could  only  shew 
you  what  I  would  have  done  had  Nature  been  more 
favourable  to  me. 

This  excellent  Actor  was  cut  off  by  a  tragical 
Death  In  the  33d  Year  of  his  Age,  generally  lamented 
by  his  Friends  and  all  Lovers  of  the  Theatre.  The 
particular  Accidents  that  attended  his  Fall  are  to  be 
found  at  large  in  the  Trial  of  the  Lord  Mokun, 
printed  among  those  of  the  State,  in  Folio} 

Sandford  might  properly  be  term'd  the  Spagnolet 
of  the  Theatre,  an  excellent  Actor  in  disagreeable 

^  William  Mountfort  was  born  in  1659  or  1660,  He  became 
a  member  of  the  Duke's  Company  as  a  boy,  and  Downes  says 
that  in  1682  he  had  grown  to  the  maturity  of  a  good  actor. 
In  the  "Counterfeits,"  licensed  29th  August,  1678,  the  Boy  is 
played  by  Young  Mumford,  and  in  "  The  Revenge,"  produced  in 
1680,  the  same  name  stands  to  the  part  of  Jack,  the  Barber's  Boy. 
After  the  Union  in  1682  he  made  rapid  progress,  for  he  played 
his  great  character  of  Sir  Courtly  Nice  as  early  as  1685.  In  this 
Gibber  gives  him  the  highest  praise ;  and  Downes  says,  "  Sir 
Courtly  was  so  nicely  Perform'd,  that  not  any  succeeding,  but  Mr. 
Cyber  has  Equall'd  him."  Mountfort  was  killed  by  one  Captain 
Hill,  aided,  it  is  supposed,  by  the  Lord  Mohun  who  died  in 
that  terrible  duel  with  the  Duke  of  Hamilton,  in  171 2,  in  which 
they  hacked  each  other  to  death.  Whether  Hill  murdered 
Mountfort  or  killed  him  in  fair  fight  is  a  doubtful  point.  (See 
Doran's  "Their  Majesties'  Servants,"  1888  edition,  i.  169-172; 
see  also  memoir  at  end  of  second  volume.) 


Characters  :  For  as  the  chief  Pieces  of  that  famous 
Painter  were  of  Human  Nature  in  Pain  and  Agony, 
so  Sandford  upon  the  Stage  was  generally  as  flagi- 
tious as  a  Creon,  a  Maligni,  an  lago,  or  a  Machiavil^ 
could  make  him.  The  Painter,  'tis  true,  from  the 
Fire  of  his  Genius  might  think  the  quiet  Objects  of 
Nature  too  tame  for  his  Pencil,  and  therefore  chose 
to  indulge  it  in  its  full  Power  upon  those  of  Violence 
and  Horror:  But  poor  Sandford vjdiS,  not  the  Stage- 
Villain  by  Choice,  but  from  Necessity ;  for  having  a 
low  and  crooked  Person,  such  bodily  Defects  were 
too  strong  to  be  admitted  into  great  or  amiable  Cha- 
racters ;  so  that  whenever  in  any  new  or  revived 
Play  there  was  a  hateful  or  mischievous  Person, 
Sandford  was  sure  to  have  no  Competitor  for  it : 
Nor  indeed  (as  we  are  not  to  suppose  a  Villain  or 
Traitor  can  be  shewn  for  our  Imitation,  or  not  for 
our  Abhorrence)  can  it  be  doubted  but  the  less 
comely  the  Actor's  Person  the  fitter  he  may  be  to  per- 
form them.  The  Spectator  too,  by  not  being  misled 
by  a  tempting  Form,  may  be  less  inclin'd  to  excuse 
the  wicked  or  immoral  Views  or  Sentiments  of 
them.  And  though  the  hard  Fate  of  an  Oedipns 
might  naturally  give  the  Humanity  of  an  Audience 
thrice  the  Pleasure  that  could  arise  from  the  wilful 
Wickedness  of  the  best  acted  Creon,  yet  who  could 
say  that  Sandford  in  such  a  Part  was  not  Master  of 
as  true  and  just  Action  as  the  best  Tragedian  could 

^  Creon    (I)ryden   and  Lee's    "CEdipus");   Malignii  (Porter's 
"  Villain")  ;  Machiavil  (Lee's  "  Cxsar  Borgia"). 

132  THE    LIFE    OF 

be  whose  happier  Person  had  recommended  him  to 
the  virtuous  Heroe,  or  any  other  more  pleasing 
Favourite  of  the  Imagination  ?  In  this  disadvan- 
tageous Light,  then,  stood  Sandford  as  an  Actor ; 
admir'd  by  the  Judicious,  while  the  Crowd  only 
prais'd  him  by  their  Prejudice/  And  so  unusual  had 
it  been  to  see  Sandford  an  innocent  Man  in  a  Play, 
that  whenever  he  was  so,  the  Spectators  would 
hardly  give  him  credit  in  so  gross  an  Improbability. 
Let  me  give  you  an  odd  Instance  of  it,  which  I  heard 
Monfort  say  was  a  real  Fact.  A  new  Play  (the  Name 
of  it  I  have  forgot)  was  brought  upon  the  Stage, 
wherein  Sandfo7'd  happen'd  to  perform  the  Part  of 
an  honest  Statesman  :  The  Pit,  after  they  had  sate 
three  or  four  Acts  in  a  quiet  Expectation  that  the 
well-dissembled  Honesty  of  Sandford  (for  such  of 
course  they  concluded  it)  would  soon  be  discover'd, 
or  at  least,  from  its  Security,  involve  the  Actors  in 
the  Play  in  some  surprizing  Distress  or  Confusion, 
which  might  raise  and  animate  the  Scenes  to  come  ; 
when,  at  last,  finding  no  such  matter,  but  that  the 
Catastrophe  had  taken  quite  another  Turn,  and  that 

^  The  "Tatler,"  No.  134:  "I  must  own,  there  is  something 
very  horrid  in  the  publick  Executions  of  an  English  Tragedy. 
Stabbing  and  Poisoning,  which  are  performed  behind  the  Scenes 
in  other  Nations,  must  be  done  openly  among  us  to  gratify  the 

When  poor  Sandford  was  upon  the  Stage,  I  have  seen  him 
groaning  upon  a  Wheel,  stuck  with  Daggers,  impaled  alive,  calling 
his  Executioners,  with  a  dying  Voice,  Cruel  Dogs,  and  Villains  ! 
And  all  this  to  please  his  judicious  Spectators,  who  were  wonder- 
fully delighted  with  seeing  a  Man  in  Torment  so  well  acted." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 33 

Saizdford  was  really  an  honest  Man  to  the  end  of  the 
Play,  they  fairly  damn'd  it,  as  if  the  Author  had  im- 
pos'd  upon  them  the  most  frontless  or  incredible 

It  is  not  improbable  but  that  from  Smtdford'?,  so 
masterly  personating  Characters  of  Guilt,  the  inferior 
Actors  might  think  his  Success  chiefly  owing  to  the 
Defects  of  his  Person  ;  and  from  thence  might  take 
occasion,  whenever  they  appear'd  as  Bravo's  or 
Murtherers,  to  make  themselves  as  frightful  and  as 
inhuman  Figures  as  possible.  In  King  Cka^dcss 
time,  this  low  Skill  was  carry 'd  to  such  an  Extrava- 
gance, that  the  King  himself,  who  was  black-brow'd 
and  of  a  swarthy  Complexion,  pass'd  a  pleasant 
Remark  upon  his  observing  the  grim  Looks  of  the 
Murtherers  in  Mackbeth  ;  when,  turning  to  his  People 
in  the  Box  about  him,  Pray,  what  is  the  Meaning, 
said  he,  that  we  never  see  a  Rogue  in  a  Play,  but, 
Godsfish !  they  always  clap  him  07i  a  black  Perriwig  ? 
when  it  is  well  known  one  of  the  greatest  Rogues  in 
England  always  wears  a  fair  one?  Now,  whether 
or  no  Dr.  Oates  at  that  time  wore  his  own  Hair  I 

^  Bellchambers  notes :  "  This  anecdote  has  more  vivacity 
than  truth,  for  the  audience  were  too  much  accustomed  to  see 
Sandford  in  parts  of  even  a  comic  nature,  to  testify  the  impatience 
or  disappointment  which  Mr.  Gibber  has  described."  I  may  add 
that  I  have  been  unable  to  discover  any  play  to  which  the  cir- 
cumstances mentioned  by  Gibber  would  apply.  But  it  must  not 
be  forgotten  that,  if  the  play  were  damned  as  completely  as  Gibber 
says,  it  would  probably  not  be  printed,  and  we  should  thus  in  all 
probability  have  no  record  of  it. 

134  THE    LIFE    OF 

cannot  be  positive  :  Or,  if  his  Majesty  pointed  at 
some  greater  Man  then  out  of  Power,  I  leave  those 
to  guess  at  him  who  may  yet  remember  the  changing 
Complexion  of  his  Ministers/  This  Story  I  had 
from  Betterton,  who  was  a  Man  of  Veracity  :  And  I 
confess  I  should  have  thought  the  King's  Observa- 
tion a  very  just  one,  though  he  himself  had  been  fair 
as  Adonis.  Nor  can  I  in  this  Question  help  voting 
with  the  Court ;  for  were  it  not  too  gross  a  Weak- 
ness to  employ  in  wicked  Purposes  Men  whose  very 
suspected  Looks  might  be  enough  to  betray  them  ? 
Or  are  we  to  suppose  It  unnatural  that  a  Murther 
should  be  thoroughly  committed  out  of  an  old  red 
Coat  and  a  black  Perriwig  ? 

For  my  own  part,  I  profess  myself  to  have  been 
an  Admirer  of  Sandford,  and  have  often  lamented 
that  his  masterly  Performance  could  not  be  rewarded 
with  that  Applause  which  I  saw  much  inferior 
Actors  met  with,  merely  because  they  stood  in  more 
laudable  Characters.  For,  tho'  it  may  be  a  Merit  in 
an  Audience  to  applaud  Sentiments  of  Virtue  and 
Honour;  yet  there  seems  to  be  an  equal  Justice  that 
no  Distinction  should  be  made  as  to  the  Excellence 
of  an  Actor,  whether  in  a  good  or  evil  Character ;  since 
neither  the  Vice  nor  the  Virtue  of  It  is  his  own,  but 
given  him  by  the  Poet :  Therefore,  why  is  not  the 
Actor  who  shines  in  either  equally  commendable  ? — 
No,  Sir;  this  may  be  Reason,  but  that  is  not  always 
a  Rule  with  us  ;  the  Spectator  will  tell  you,  that  when 
^  Probably  the  Earl  of  Shaftesbury. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 35 

Virtue  is  applauded  he  gives  part  of  it  to  himself; 
because  his  Applause  at  the  same  time  lets  others 
about  him  see  that  he  himself  admires  it.  But  when 
a  wicked  Action  is  going  forward ;  when  an  lago  Is 
meditating-  RevenQ^e  and  Mischief;  tho'  Art  and 
Nature  may  be  equally  strong  in  the  Actor,  the 
Spectator  is  shy  of  his  Applause,  lest  he  should  in 
some  sort  be  look'd  upon  as  an  Aider  or  an  Abettor 
of  the  Wickedness  in  view ;  and  therefore  rather 
chuses  to  rob  the  Actor  of  the  Praise  he  may  merit, 
than  cfive  it  him  in  a  Character  which  he  would  have 
you  see  his  Silence  modestly  discourages.  From  the 
same  fond  Principle  many  Actors  have  made  it  a 
Point  to  be  seen  in  Parts  sometimes  even  flatly 
written,  only  because  they  stood  In  the  favourable 
Llofht  of  Honour  and  Virtue.^ 

I  have  formerly  known  an  Actress  carry  this 
Theatrical  Prudery  to  such  a  height,  that  she  was 
very  near  keeping  herself  chaste  by  It :  Her  Fond- 
ness for  Virtue  on  the  Stage  she  began  to  think 
might  perswade  the  World  that  it  had  made  an  Im- 
pression on  her  private  Life ;  and  the  Appearances 
of  it  actually  went  so  far  that,  in  an  Epilogue  to  an 
obscure  Play,  the  Profits  of  which  were  given  to  her, 
and  wherein  she  acted  a  Part  of  impregnable  Chas- 

^  Macready  seems  to  have  held  something  Uke  this  view  re- 
garding "villains."  At  the  present  time  we  have  no  such  preju- 
dices, for  one  of  the  most  popular  of  English  actors,  Mr.  E.  S. 
Willard,  owes  his  reputation  chiefly  to  his  wonderfully  vivid  pre- 
sentation of  villainy. 

136  THE    LIFE    OF 

tity,  she  bespoke  the  Favour  of  the  Ladies  by  a  Pro- 
testation that  in  Honour  of  their  Goodness  and 
Virtue  she  would  dedicate  her  unblemish'd  Life  to 
their  Example.  Part  of  this  Vestal  Vow,  I  remem- 
ber, was  contain'd  in  the  following  Verse  : 

Study  to  live  the  Character  I  play} 

But  alas  !  how  weak  are  the  strongest  Works  of  Art 
when  Nature  besieges  it  ?  for  though  this  good 
Creature  so  far  held  out  her  Distaste  to  Mankind 
that  they  could  never  reduce  her  to  marry  any  one 
of  'em  ;  yet  we  must  own  she  grew,  like  CcBsar, 
greater  by  her  Fall !  Her  first  heroick  Motive  to  a 
Surrender  was  to  save  the  Life  of  a  Lover  who  in 
his  Despair  had  vow'd  to  destroy  himself,  with 
which  Act  of  Mercy  (in  a  jealous  Dispute  once  in  my 
Hearing)  she  was  provoked  to  reproach  him  in  these 
very  Words  :  Villain  I  did  not  I  save  your  Life  f 
The  generous  Lover,  in  return  to  that  first  tender 
Obligation,  gave  Life  to  her  First-born,"  and  that 
pious  Offspring  has  since  raised  to  her  Memory 
several  innocent  Grandchildren. 

^  The  play  in  question  is  "  The  Triumphs  of  Virtue,"  produced 
at  Drury  Lane  in  1697,  and  the  actress  is  Mrs.  Rogers,  who  after- 
wards lived  with  Wilks.     The  lines  in  the  Epilogue  are : — 

"  I'll  pay  this  duteous  gratitude ;  I'll  do 

That  which  the  play  has  done — I'll  copy  you. 

At  your  own  virtue's  shrine  my  vows  I'll  pay, 

Study  to  live  the  character  I  play." 

^  Chetwood  gives  a  short  memoir  of  this  "  first-born,"  who  be- 
came the  wife  of  Christopher  Bullock,  and  died  in  1739.  Mrs. 
Dyer  was  the  only  child  of  Mrs.  Bullock's  mentioned  by  Chetwood. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 37 

So  that,  as  we  see,  it  is  not  the  Hood  that  makes 
the  Monk,  nor  the  Veil  the  Vestal ;  I  am  apt  to  think 
that  if  the  personal  Morals  of  an  Actor  were  to  be 
weighed  by  his  Appearance  on  the  Stage,  the  Ad- 
vantage and  Favour  (if  any  were  due  to  either  side) 
might  rather  incline  to  the  Traitor  than  the  Heroe, 
to  the  Semproniiis  than  the  Cato,  or  to  the  Syphax 
than  th.Q.Juba:  Because  no  Man  can  naturally  desire 
to  cover  his  Honesty  with  a  wicked  Appearance ; 
but  an  ill  Man  might  possibly  incline  to  cover  his 
Guilt  with  the  Appearance  of  Virtue,  which  was  the 
Case  of  the  frail  Fair  One  now  mentioned.  But  be 
this  Question  decided  as  it  may,  Sandford  always 
appear'd  to  me  the  honester  Man  in  proportion  to 
the  Spirit  wherewith  he  exposed  the  wicked  and 
immoral  Characters  he  acted  :  For  had  his  Heart 
been  unsound,  or  tainted  with  the  least  Guilt  of 
them,  his  Conscience  must,  in  spite  of  him,  in  any  too 
near  a  Resemblance  of  himself,  have  been  a  Check 
upon  the  Vivacity  of  his  Action.  Sandford  there- 
fore might  be  said  to  have  contributed  his  equal 
Share  with  the  foremost  Actors  to  the  true  and 
laudable  Use  of  the  Stage :  And  in  this  Light  too, 
of  being  so  frequently  the  Object  of  common  Dis- 
taste, we  may  honestly  stile  him  a  Theatrical  Martyr 
to  Poetical  Justice :  For  in  making  Vice  odious  or 
Virtue  amiable,  where  does  the  Merit  differ  ?  To 
hate  the  one  or  love  the  other  are  but  leading  Steps 
to  the  same  Temple  of  Fame,  tho'  at  different  Portals.^ 
'  See  memoir  of  Sandford  at  end  of  second  volume. 

138  THE    LIFE   OF 

This  Actor,  in  his  manner  of  Speaking,  varied 
very  much  from  those  I  have  already  mentioned. 
His  Voice  had  an  acute  and  piercing  Tone,  which 
struck  every  Syllable  of  his  Words  distinctly  upon 
the  Ear.  He  had  likewise  a  peculiar  Skill  in  his 
Look  of  marking  out  to  an  Audience  whatever  he 
judg'd  worth  their  more  than  ordinary  Notice.  When 
he  deliver'd  a  Command,  he  would  sometimes  give  it 
more  Force  by  seeming  to  slight  the  Ornament  of 
Harmony.  In  Drydeiis  Plays  of  Rhime,  he  as  little 
as  possible  glutted  the  Ear  with  the  Jingle  of  it, 
rather  chusing,  when  the  Sense  would  permit  him,  to 
lose  it,  than  to  value  it. 

Had  Sandford  liv'd  in  Shakespear  s  Time,  I  am 
confident  his  Judgment  must  have  chose  him  above 
all  other  Actors  to  have  play'd  his  Richard  the  Third: 
I  leave  his  Person  out  of  the  Question,  which,  tho' 
naturally  made  for  it,  yet  that  would  have  been  the 
the  least  Part  of  his  Recommendation ;  Sandford 
had  stronger  Claims  to  it ;  he  had  sometimes  an 
uncouth  Stateliness  in  his  Motion,  a  harsh  and  sullen 
Pride  of  Speech,  a  meditating  Brow,  a  stern  Aspect, 
occasionally  changing  into  an  almost  ludicrous  Tri- 
umph over  all  Goodness  and  Virtue :  From  thence 
falling  into  the  most  asswasive  Gentleness  and  sooth- 
ing Candour  of  a  designing  Heart.  These,  I  say, 
must  have  preferr'd  him  to  it ;  these  would  have 
been  Colours  so  essentially  shining  in  that  Character, 
that  it  will  be  no  Dispraise  to  that  great  Author  to 
say,  Sajidford  must  have  shewn  as  many  masterly 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  1 39 

Strokes  in  it  (had  he  ever  acted  it)  as  are  visible  in 
the  Writing  it.^ 

When  I  first  brought  Richard  the  Third"^  (with  such 
Alterations  as  I  thought  not  improper)  to  the  Stage, 
Sandford  was  engaged  in  the  Company  then  act- 
ing under  King  Williams  Licence  in  Lificolns- 
Inn- Fields ;  otherwise  you  cannot  but  suppose  my 
Interest  must  have  offer'd  him  that  Part.  What 
encouraged  me,  therefore,  to  attempt  it  myself  at  the 
Theatre-Royal,  was  that  I  imagined  I  knew  how 
Sandford  would  have  spoken  every  Line  of  it :  If, 
therefore,  in  any  Part  of  it  I  succeeded,  let  the  Merit 
be  given  to  him  :  And  how  far  I  succeeded  in  that 
Light,  those  only  can  be  Judges  who  remember  him. 
In  order,  therefore,  to  give  you  a  nearer  Idea  of 
Sandford,  you  must  give  me  leave  (compell'd  as  I 
am  to  be  vain)  to  tell  you  that  the  late  Sir  John 
Vanbrugh,  who  was  an  Admirer  of  Sandford,  after 

^  It  is  a  very  common  mistake  to  state  that  Gibber  founded  his 
playing  of  Richard  III.  on  that  of  Sandford.  He  merely  says 
that  he  tried  to  act  the  part  as  he  knew  Sandford  would  have 
played  it. 

^  Gibber's  adaptation,  which  has  held  the  stage  ever  since  its 
production,  was  first  played  at  Drury  Lane  in  1700.  Genest  (ii. 
195-219)  gives  an  exhaustive  account  of  Gibber's  mutilation.  His 
opinion  of  it  may  be  gathered  from  these  sentences :  "  One  has 
no  wish  to  disturb  Gibber's  own  Tragedies  in  their  tranquil  graves, 
but  while  our  indignation  continues  to  be  excited  by  the  frequent 
representation  of  Richard  the  3d  in  so  disgraceful  a  state,  there 
can  be  no  peace  between  the  friends  of  unsophisticated  Shak- 
speare  and  Gibber."  "  To  the  advocates  for  Gibber's  Richard  I 
only  wish  to  make  one  request — that  they  would  never  say  a 
syllable  in  favour  of  Shakspeare." 


140  THE   LIFE    OF 

he  had  seen  me  act  it,  assur'd  me  That  he  never 
knew  any  one  Actor  so  particularly  profit  by  another 
as  I  had  done  by  Saiidford  in  Richard  the  Third: 
You  have,  said  he,  his  very  Look,  Gesture,  Gait, 
Speech,  and  every  Motion  of  him,  and  have  borrow  d 
them  all  only  to  serve  you  in  that  Character.  If, 
therefore,  Sir  John  Vanbrtigh's  Observation  was  just, 
they  who  remember  me  in  Richard  the  Third  may 
have  a  nearer  Conception  of  Sandford  than  from  all 
the  critical  Account  I  can  give  of  him.^ 

I  come  now  to  those  other  Men  Actors,  who  at 
this  time  were  equally  famous  in  the  lower  Life  of 
Comedy.  But  I  find  myself  more  at  a  loss  to  give 
you  them  in  their  true  and  proper  Light,  than  those 
I  have  already  set  before  you.  Why  the  Tragedian 
warms  us  into  Joy  or  Admiration,  or  sets  our  Eyes 
on  flow  with  Pity,  we  can  easily  explain  to  another's 
Apprehension  :     But  it  may  sometimes  puzzle   the 

^  "  The  Laureat "  (p.  35) :  "  This  same  Mender  of  Shakespear 
chose  the  principal  Part,  viz.  the  King,  for  himself;  and  accord- 
ingly being  invested  with  the  purple  Robe,  he  screamed  thro' four 
Acts  without  Dignity  or  Decency.  The  Audience  ill-pleas'd  with 
the  Farce,  accompany'd  him  with  a  smile  of  Contempt,  but  in  the 
fifth  Act,  he  degenerated  all  at  once  into  Sir  Novelty  ;  and  when 
in  the  Heat  of  the  Battle  at  Bosttwrth  Field,  the  King  is  dis- 
mounted, our  Comic-Tragedian  came  on  the  Stage,  really  breath- 
less, and  in  a  seeming  Panick,  screaming  out  this  Line  thus — A 
Harse,  a  Harse,  my  Kingdom  for  a  Harse.  This  highly  delighted 
some,  and  disgusted  others  of  his  Auditors ;  and  when  he  was  kill'd 
by  Richmond,  one  might  plainly  perceive  that  the  good  People 
were  not  better  pleas'd  that  so  execrable  a  Tyrant  was  destroy'd, 
than  that  so  execrable  an  Actor  was  silent." 


gravest  Spectator  to  account  for  that  familiar  Vio- 
lence of  Laughter  that  shall  seize  him  at  some  par- 
ticular Strokes  of  a  true  Comedian.  How  then  shall 
I  describe  what  a  better  Judge  might  not  be  able  to 
express  ?  The  Rules  to  please  the  Fancy  cannot  so 
easily  be  laid  down  as  those  that  ought  to  govern 
the  Judgment.  The  Decency,  too,  that  must  be  ob- 
served in  Tragedy,  reduces,  by  the  manner  of  speak- 
ing it,  one  Actor  to  be  much  more  like  another  than 
they  can  or  need  be  supposed  to  be  in  Comedy  : 
There  the  Laws  of  Action  give  them  such  free  and 
almost  unlimited  Liberties  to  play  and  wanton  with 
Nature,  that  the  Voice,  Look,  and  Gesture  of  a 
Comedian  may  be  as  various  as  the  Manners  and 
Faces  of  the  whole  Mankind  are  different  from  one 
another.  These  are  the  Difficulties  I  lie  under. 
Where  I  want  Words,  therefore,  to  describe  what  I 
may  commend,  I  can  only  hope  you  will  give  credit 
to  my  Opinion  :  And  this  Credit  I  shall  most  stand  in 
need  of,  when  I  tell  you,  that 

Nokes  ^  was  an  Actor  of  a  quite  different  Genius 
from  any  I  have  ever  read,  heard  of,  or  seen,  since 
or  before  his  Time  ;  and  yet  his  general  Excellence 
may  be  comprehended  in  one   Article,  viz.  a  plain 

'  James  Noke,  or  Nokes — not  Robert,  as  Bellchambers  states. 
Of  Robert  Nokes  little  is  known.  Downes  mentions  both  actors 
among  Rhodes's  original  Company,  Robert  playing  male  charac- 
ters, and  James  being  one  of  the  "boy-actresses."  Downes  does 
not  distinguish  between  them  at  all,  simply  mentioning  "  Mr. 
Nokes"  as  playing  particular  parts.  Robert  Nokes  died  about 
1673,  so  that  wc  are  certain  that  the  famous  brother  was  James. 

142  THE   LIFE    OF 

and   palpable   Simplicity  of  Nature,   which  was  so 
utterly  his  own,  that  he  was  often  as  unaccountably 
diverting  in  his  common  Speech  as  on  the  Stage.     I 
saw  him  once  orivinor  an  Account  of  some  Table-talk 
to  another  Actor  behind  the  Scenes,  which  a  Man 
of  Quality  accidentally  listening  to,  was  so  deceived 
by  his  Manner,  that  he  ask'd  him  if  that  was  a  new 
Play  he  was  rehearsing  ?     It  seems  almost  amazing 
that  this  Simplicity,  so  easy  to  Nokes,  should  never 
be  caught  by  any  one  of  his  Successors.     Leigh  and 
Underhil  have  been  well  copied,  tho'  not  equall'd  by 
others.     But  not  all  the  mimical  Skill  of  Estcoui'-t 
(fam'd  as  he  was  for  it)  tho'  he  had  often  seen  Nokes, 
could  scarce  give  us  an  Idea  of  him.     After  this  per- 
haps it  will  be  saying  less  of  him,  when  I  own,  that 
though  I  have  still  the  Sound  of  every  Line  he  spoke 
in  my  Ear,  (which  us'd  not  to  be  thought  a  bad  one) 
yet   I   have  often   try'd  by   myself,  but  in  vain,   to 
reach  the  least  distant  Likeness  of  the  Vis  Comica  of 
Nokes,     Though  this  may  seem  little  to  his  Praise, 
it  may  be  negatively  saying  a  good  deal  to  it,  because 
I  have  never  seen  any  one  Actor,  except   himself, 
whom  I  could  not  at  least  so  far  imitate  as  to  give 
you  a  more  than   tolerable   Notion  of  his  manner. 
But  Nokes  was  so  singular  a  Species,   and  was  so 
form'd  by  Nature  for  the  Stage,  that  I   question  if 
(beyond  the  trouble  of  getting  Words  by  Heart)  it 
ever  cost  him  an   Hour's   Labour  to  arrive  at  that 
high  Reputation  he  had,  and  deserved. 

The  Characters  he  particularly  shone  in,  were  Sir 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  1 43 

Martin  Marr-all,  Gomes  in  the  Spanish  Friar,  Sir 
Nicolas  Cully  in  Love  in  a  Tub}  Barnaby  Bj^ittle  in 
the  Wanton  Wife,  Sir  Davy  Dimce  in  the  Soldiers 
Fortune,  Sosia  in  Amphytrion^  &c.  &c.  &c.  To  tell 
you  how  he  acted  them  is  beyond  the  reach  of 
Criticism :  But  to  tell  you  what  Effect  his  Action 
had  upon  the  Spectator  is  not  impossible  :  This  then 
is  all  you  will  expect  from  me,  and  from  hence  I 
must  leave  you  to  guess  at  him. 

He  scarce  ever  made  his  first  Entrance  in  a  Play 
but  he  was  received  with  an  involuntary  Applause, 
not  of  Hands  only,  for  those  may  be,  and  have  often 
been  partially  prostituted  and  bespoken,  but  by  a 
General  Laughter  which  the  very  Sight  of  him  pro- 
voked and  Nature  cou'd  not  resist ;  yet  the  louder 
the  Laugh  the  graver  was  his  Look  upon  it ;  and 
sure,  the  ridiculous  Solemnity  of  his  Features  were 
enough  to  have  set  a  whole  Bench  of  Bishops  into  a 
Titter,  cou'd  he  have  been  honour'd  (may  it  be  no 
Offence  to  suppose  it)  with  such  grave  and  right 
reverend  Auditors.  In  the  ludicrous  Distresses 
which,  by  the  Laws  of  Comedy,  Folly  is  often  involv'd 
in,  he  sunk  into  such  a  mixture  of  piteous  Pusillani- 
mity and  a  Consternation  so  ruefully  ridiculous  and 
inconsolable,  that  when  he  had  shook  you  to  a 
Fatigue  of  Laughter  it  became  a  moot  point  whether 
you  ought  not  to  have  pity'd  him.    When  he  debated 

'  "The  Comical  Revenge  ;  or,  Love  in  a  Tub." 
^  Of  these  plays,  "  The  Spanish  Friar,"  "  The  Soldier's  Fortune," 
and  "  Amphytrion  "  were  i)roduced  after  Robert  Nokcs's  death. 

144  THE    LIFE    OF 

any  matter  by  himself,  he  would  shut  up  his  Mouth 
with  a  dumb  studious  Powt,  and  roll  his  full  Eye  into 
such  a  vacant  Amazement,  such  a  palpable  Ignorance 
of  what  to  think  of  it,  that  his  silent  Perplexity  (which 
would  sometimes  hold  him  several  Minutes)  gave 
your  Imagination  as  full  Content  as  the  most  absurd 
thing  he  could  say  upon  it.  In  the  Character  of  Sir 
Martin  Marr-all,  who  is  always  committing  Blunders 
to  the  Prejudice  of  his  own  Interest,  when  he  had 
brought  himself  to  a  Dilemma  in  his  Affairs  by 
vainly  proceeding  upon  his  own  Head,  and  was  after- 
wards afraid  to  look  his  governing  Servant  and  Coun- 
sellor in  the  Face,  what  a  copious  and  distressful 
Harangue  have  I  seen  him  make  with  his  Looks 
(while  the  House  has  been  in  one  continued  Roar 
for  several  Minutes)  before  he  could  prevail  with  his 
Courage  to  speak  a  Word  to  him  !  Then  might  you 
have  at  once  read  in  his  Face  Vexation — that  his  own 
Measures,  which  he  had  piqued  himself  upon,  had 
fail'd.  Envy — of  his  Servant's  superior  Wit — Distress 
— to  retrieve  the  Occasion  he  had  lost.  Shame — to 
confess  his  Folly ;  and  yet  a  sullen  Desire  to  be  re- 
conciled and  better  advised  for  the  future !  What 
Tragedy  ever  shew'd  us  such  a  Tumult  of  Passions 
rising  at  once  in  one  Bosom !  or  what  buskin'd 
Heroe  standing  under  the  Load  of  them  could  have 
more  effectually  mov'd  his  Spectators  by  the  most 
pathetick  Speech,  than  poor  miserable  Nokes  did  by 
this  silent  Eloquence  and  piteous  Plight  of  his 
Features  ? 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 45 

His  Person  was  of  the  middle  size,  his  Voice  clear 
and  audible ;  his  natural  Countenance  grave  and 
sober  ;  but  the  Moment  he  spoke  the  settled  Serious- 
ness of  his  Features  was  utterly  discharg'd,  and  a 
dry,  drolling,  or  laughing  Levity  took  such  full  Pos- 
session of  him  that  I  can  only  refer  the  Idea  of  him 
to  your  Imagination.  In  some  of  his  low  Characters, 
that  became  it,  he  had  a  shuffling  Shamble  in  his 
Gait,  with  so  contented  an  Ignorance  in  his  Aspect 
and  an  aukward  Absurdity  in  his  Gesture,  that  had 
you  not  known  him,  you  could  not  have  believ'd 
that  naturally  he  could  have  had  a  Grain  of  common 
Sense.  In  a  Word,  I  am  tempted  to  sum  up  the 
Character  of  Nokes,  as  a  Comedian,  in  a  Parodie  of 
what  Shakespears  Mark  Antony  says  oi  Bj'utus  as  a 

His  Life  was  Laughter,  and  the  Ludicrous 
So  mixt  in  him,  that  Natit7^e  might  stand  up 
And  say  to  all  the  World — This  was  an  Actor. ^ 

Leigh  was  of  the  mercurial  kind,  and  though  not 
so  strict  an  Observer  of  Nature,  yet  never  so  wanton 
in  his  Performance  as  to  be  wholly  out  of  her  Sight. 
In  Humour  he  lov'd  to  take  a  full  Career,  but  was 
careful  enough  to  stop  short  when  just  upon  the 
Precipice  :  He  had  great  Variety  in  his  manner,  and 
was  famous  in  very  different  Characters  :  In  the 
canting,  grave  Hypocrisy  of  the  Spanish  Friar  he 
stretcht  the  Veil  of  Piety  so  thinly  over  him,  that  in 

^  See  memoir  of  James  Nokes  at  end  of  second  volume. 

146  THE    LIFE    OF 

every  Look,  Word,  and  Motion  you  saw  a  palpable, 
wicked  Slyness  shine  through  it — Here  he  kept  his 
Vivacity  demurely  confin'd  till  the  pretended  Duty 
of  his  Function  demanded  it,  and  then  he  exerted  it 
with  a  cholerick  sacerdotal  Insolence.  But  the  Friar 
is  a  Character  of  such  glaring  Vice  and  so  strongly 
drawn,  that  a  very  indifferent  Actor  cannot  but  hit 
upon  the  broad  Jests  that  are  remarkable  in  every 
Scene  of  it.  Though  I  have  never  yet  seen  any  one 
that  has  fill'd  them  with  half  the  Truth  and  Spirit  of 

Leigh Leigh  rais'd  the  Character  as  much  above 

the  Poet's  Imagination  as  the  Character  has  some- 
times rais'd  other  Actors  above  themselves !  and  I 
do  not  doubt  but  the  Poet's  Knowledge  of  Leigh's 
Genius  help'd  him  to  many  a  pleasant  Stroke  of 
Nature,  which  without  that  Knowledge  never  might 
have  enter'd  into  his  Conception.  Leigh  was  so 
eminent  in  this  Character  that  the  late  Earl  of  Dorset 
(who  was  equally  an  Admirer  and  a  Judge  of  Thea- 
trical Merit)  had  a  whole  Length  of  him,  in  the  Friar's 
Habit,  drawn  by  Kneller :  The  whole  Portrait  is 
highly  painted,  and  extremely  like  him.  But  no 
wonder  Leigh  arriv'd  to  such  Fame  in  what  was  so 
compleatly  written  for  him,  when  Characters  that 
would  make  the  Reader  yawn  in  the  Closet,  have, 
by  the  Strength  of  his  Action,  been  lifted  into  the 
lowdest  Laughter  on  the  Stage.  Of  this  kind  was 
the  Scrivener's  great  boobily  Son  in  the    Villain;^ 

'  "  Coligni,  the  character  alluded  to,  at  the  original  representa- 
tion of  this  play,  was  sustained,  says  Downs,  '  by  that  inimitable 


MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  1 47 

Ralph,  a  stupid,  staring  Under-servant,  In  Sir  Solo- 
7non  Single}  Quite  opposite  to  those  were  Sir  Jolly 
Jimible  in  the  Soldier  s  Fortune!^  and  his  old  Belfond 
in  the  Squire  of  Alsatia?  In  Sir  Jolly  he  was  all 
Life  and  laughing  Humour,  and  when  Nokes  acted 

sprightly  actor,  Mr.  Price, — especially  in  this  part.'  Joseph  Price 
joined  D'Avenant's  company  on  Rhodes's  resignation,  being  one 
of  'the  new  actors,'  according  to  the  '  Roscius  Anglicanus,'  who 
were  '  taken  in  to  complete '  it.  He  is  first  mentioned  for  Guilden 
stern,  in  *  Hamlet ; '  and,  in  succession,  for  Leonel,  in  D'Avenant's 
'  Love  and  Honour,'  on  which  occasion  the  Earl  of  Oxford  gave 
him  his  coronation-suit;  for  Paris,  in  'Romeo  and  Juliet;'  the 
Corregidor,  in  Tuke's  'Adventures  of  five  hours;'  and  Co/igni,  as 
already  recorded.  In  the  year  1663,  by  speaking  a  '  short  comi- 
cal prologue '  to  the  '  Rivals,'  introducing  some  '  very  diverting 
dances,'  Mr.  Price  '  gained  him  an  universal  applause  of  the 
town.'  The  versatility  of  this  actor  must  have  been  great,  or  the 
necessities  of  the  company  imperious,  as  we  next  find  him  set 
down  for  Lord  Sands,  in  '  King  Henry  the  Eighth.'  He  then 
performed  Will,  in  the  'Cutter  of  Coleman-street,'  and  is  men- 
tioned by  Downs  as  being  dead,  in  the  year  1673." 

The  above  is  Bellchambers's  note.  He  is  wrong  in  stating  that 
Price  played  the  Corregidor  in  Tuke's  "Adventures  of  Five 
Hours;"  his  part  was  Silvio.  He  omits,  too,  to  mention  one  of 
Price's  best  parts,  Dufoy,  in  "  Love  in  a  Tub,"  in  which  Downes 
specially  commends  him  in  this  queer  couplet : — 

"Sir  Nich'las,  Sir  Fred'rick;  Widow  and  Dufoy, 
Were  not  by  any  so  well  done,  Mafoy." 

Price  does  not  seem  to  have  acted  after  May,  1665,  when  the 
theatres  closed  for  the  Plague,  for  his  name  is  never  mentioned 
by  Downes  after  the  theatres  re-opened  in  November,  1666,  after 
the  Plague  and  Fire. 

^  "  Sir  Solomon ;  or,  the  Cautious  Coxcomb,"  by  John  Caryll. 

■■*  By  Otway. 

'  By  Shadwell. 

148  THE    LIFE    OF 

with  him  In  the  same  Play,  they  returned  the  Ball  so 
dexterously  upon  one  another,  that  every  Scene  be- 
tween them  seem'd  but  one  continued  Rest  ^  of  Excel- 
lence  But  alas  !  when  those  Actors  were  gone, 

that  Comedy  and  many  others,  for  the  same  Reason, 
were  rarely  known  to  stand  upon  their  own  Legs  ; 
by  seeing  no  more  of  Leigh  or  Nokes  in  them,  the 
Characters  were  quite  sunk  and  alter'd.  In  his  Sir 
William  Belfond,  Leigh  shew'd  a  more  spirited 
Variety  than  ever  I  saw  any  Actor,  in  any  one 
Character,  come  up  to  :  The  Poet,  'tis  true,  had  here 
exactly  chalked  for  him  the  Out-lines  of  Nature; 
but  the  high  Colouring,  the  strong  Lights  and  Shades 
of  Humour  that  enliven'd  the  whole  and  struck  our 
Admiration  with  Surprize  and  Delight,  were  wholly 
owing  to  the  Actor.     The  easy  Reader  might,  per- 

*  "  Rest "  is  a  term  used  in  tennis,  and  seems  to  have  meant  a 
quick  and  continued  returning  of  the  ball  from  one  player  to  the 
other — what  is  in  lawn  tennis  called  a  "rally." 

Gibber  uses  the  word  in  his  "Careless  Husband,"  act  iv.  sc.  i. 

^^ Lady  Betty  [to  Lord  Morelove].  Nay,  my  lord,  there's  no 
standing  against  two  of  you. 

Lord  Foppington.  No,  faith,  that's  odds  at  tennis,  my  lord  :  not 
but  if  your  ladyship  pleases,  I'll  endeavour  to  keep  your  back- 
hand a  little ;  though  upon  my  soul  you  may  safely  set  me  up  at 
the  line  :  for,  knock  me  down,  if  ever  I  saw  a  rest  of  wit  better 
played,  than  that  last,  in  my  life." 

In  the  only  dictionary  in  which  I  have  found  this  word  "  Rest," 
it  is  given  as  "A  match,  a  game;"  but,  as  I  think  I  have  shown, 
this  is  a  defective  explanation.  I  may  add  that,  since  writing  the 
above,  I  have  been  favoured  with  the  opinion  of  Mr.  Julian 
Marshall,  the  distinguished  authority  on  tennis,  who  confirms  my 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 49 

haps,  have  been  pleased  with  the  Author  without 
discomposing  a  Feature,  but  the  Spectator  must  have 
heartily  held  his  Sides,  or  the  Actor  would  have 
heartily  made  them  ach  for  it. 

Now,  though  I  observ'd  before  that  Nokes  never 
was  tolerably  touch'd  by  any  of  his  Successors,  yet 
in  this  Character  I  must  own  I  have  seen  Leigh 
extremely  well  imitated  by  my  late  facetious  Friend 
Penkethman,  who,  tho'  far  short  of  what  was  inimi- 
table in  the  Original,  yet,  as  to  the  general  Resem- 
blance, was  a  very  valuable  Copy  of  him  :  And,  as  I 
know  Penkethman  cannot  yet  be  out  of  your  Memory, 
I  have  chosen  to  mention  him  here,  to  give  you  the 
nearest  Idea  I  can  of  the  Excellence  oi  Leigh  in  that 
particular  Light :  For  Leigh  had  many  masterly 
Variations  which  the  other  cou'd  not,  nor  ever  pre- 
tended to  reach,  particularly  in  the  Dotage  and 
Follies  of  extreme  old  Age,  in  the  Characters  of 
Fumble  in  the  Fond  HiLsband^  and  the  Toothless 
Lawyer^  in  the  City  Politicks,  both  which  Plays  liv'd 
only  by  the  extraordinary  Performance  of  Nokes  and 

There  were  two  other  Characters  of  the  farcical 
kind,  Gcta  in  the  Prophetess,  and  Crack  in  Sir 
Courtly  Nice,  which,  as  they  are  less  confin'd  to 
Nature,  the    Imitation  of  them  was  less  difficult  to 

'  By  Durfey. 

^  Bartoline.  Genest  suggests  that  this  character  was  intendcii 
for  the  Whig  lawyer,  Serjeant  Maynard.  The  play  was  written  hy 

150  THE   LIFE    OF 

Penkethman}  who,  to  say  the  Truth,  deHghted  more 
in  the  whimsical  than  the  natural  ;  therefore,  when  I 
say  he  sometimes  resembled  Leigh,  I  reserve  this 
Distinction  on  his  Master's  side,  that  the  pleasant 
ExtravaQ^ancies  of  Leio'h  were  all  the  Flowers  of  his 
own  Fancy,  while  the  less  fertile  Brain  of  my  Friend 
was  contented  to  make  use  of  the  Stock  his  Prede- 
cessor had  left  him.  What  I  have  said,  therefore,  is 
not  to  detract  from  honest  Pinky  s  Merit,  but  to  do 

Justice  to  his  Predecessor And  though,  'tis  true, 

we  as  seldom  see  a  good  Actor  as  a  great  Poet  arise 
from  the  bare  Imitation  of  another's  Genius,  yet  if 
this  be  a  general  Rule,  Peiikcthvian  was  the  nearest 
to  an  Exception  from  it;  for  with  those  who  never 
knew  Leigh  he  might  very  well  have  pass'd  for  a 
more  than  common  Original.  Yet  again,  as  my 
Partiality  for  Penkethman  ought  not  to  lead  me  from 
Truth,  I  must  beg  leave  (though  out  of  its  Place)  to 
tell  you  fairly  what  was  the  best  of  him,  that  the 

superiority  of  Leigh  may  stand  in  its  due  Light 

Penkethman  had  certainly  from  Nature  a  great  deal 
of  comic  Power  about  him,  but  his  Judgment  was  by 
no  means  equal  to  it ;  for  he  would  make  frequent 
Deviations  into  the  Whimsies  of  an  Harleqicin.  By 
the  way,  (let  me  digress  a  little  farther)  whatever 
Allowances  are  made  for  the  Licence  of  that  Charac- 
ter, I  mean  of  an  Harlequin,  whatever  Pretences 
may  be  urged,  from  the  Practice  of  the  ancient 
Comedy,  for  its  being  play'd  in  a  Mask,  resembling 
^  See  memoir  of  Pinkethman  at  end  of  second  volume. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  I  5  I 

no  part  of  the  human  Species,  I  am  apt  to  think  the 
best  Excuse  a  modern  Actor  can  plead  for  his  con- 
tinuing it,  is  that  the  low,  senseless,  and  monstrous 
thino-s  he  says  and  does  in  it  no  theatrical  Assu- 
rance could  get  through  with  a  bare  Face  :  Let  me 
give  you  an  Instance  of  even  Penkct/mians  being  out 
of  Countenance  for  want  of  it  :  When  he  first  play'd 
Harlequin  in  the  Emperor  of  the  Moonl  several 
Gentlemen  (who  inadvertently  judg'd  by  the  Rules 
of  Nature)  fancied  that  a  great  deal  of  the  Drollery 
and  Spirit  of  his  Grimace  was  lost  by  his  wearing 
that  useless,  unmeaning  Masque  of  a  black  Cat,  and 
therefore  insisted  that  the  next  time  of  his  acting 
that   Part  he  should  play  without  it :   Their  Desire 

was  accordingly  comply'd  with but,  alas  !  in  vain 

— Penkethman  could  not  take  to  himself  the  Shame 
of  the  Character  without  being  concealed — he  was 
no  more  Harlequin — his  Humour  was  quite  discon- 
certed !  his  Conscience  could  not  with  the  same 
Effronterie  declare  against  Nature  without  the  cover 
of  that  unchanging  Face,  which  he  was  sure  would 
never  blush  for  it !  no  !  it  was  quite  another  Case ! 

^  In  this  farce,  written  by  Mrs.  Behn,  and  produced  in  1687, 
Jevon  was  the  original  Harlequin.  Pinkethman  played  the  part 
in  1702,  and  played  it  without  the  mask  on  i8th  September, 
1702.  The  "Daily  Courant"  of  that  date  contains  an  advertise- 
ment in  which  it  is  stated  that  "  At  the  Desire  of  some  Persons  of 
Quality  .  .  .  will  be  presented  a  Comedy,  call'd.  The  Emperor  of 
the  Moon,  wherein  Mr.  Penkethman  acts  the  part  of  Harlequin 
without  a  Masque,  for  the  Entertainment  of  an  African  Prince 
lately  arrived  here." 

152  THE    LIFE    OF 

without  that  Armour  his  Courage  could  not  come  up 
to  the  bold  Strokes  that  were  necessary  to  get  the 
better  of  common  Sense.     Now  if  this  Circumstance 
will  justify  the  Modesty  of  Penkethman,  it  cannot 
but  throw  a  wholesome  Contempt  on  the  low  Merit 
of  an  Harlequin.     But   how  farther  necessary  the 
Masque  is  to  that  Fool's  Coat,  we   have  lately  had  a 
stronger  Proof  in  the   Favour  that  the  Harlequin 
Sauvage  met  with  at  Paris,  and  the  ill  Fate  that  fol- 
lowed  the    same    Sauvage  when    he  pull'd    off  his 
Masque  in  London}    So  that  it  seems  what  was  Wit 
from  an  Harlequin  was  something  too  extravagant 
from  a  human  Creature.      If,  therefore,  Pc7ikethman 
in  Characters  drawn  from  Nature  might  sometimes 
launch  out  into  a  few  gamesome  Liberties  which  would 
not  have  been  excused  from  a  more  correct  Comedian, 
yet,  in  his  manner  of  taking  them,  he  always  seem'd 
to  me  in  a  kind  of  Consciousness  of  the  Hazard  he 
was  running,  as  if  he  fairly  confess'd  that  what  he 

did  was  only  as  well  as  he  could  do That  he  was 

willing  to  take  his  Chance  for  Success,  but  if  he  did 
not  meet  with  it  a  Rebuke  should  break  no  Squares  ; 

^  This  refers  to  "  Art  and  Nature,"  a  comedy  by  James  Miller, 
produced  at  Drury  Lane  i6th  February,  1738.  The  principal 
character  in  "  Harlequin  Sauvage"  was  introduced  into  it  and 
played  by  Theophilus  Gibber.  The  piece  was  damned  the  first 
night,  but  it  must  not  be  forgotten  that  the  Templars  damned 
everything  of  Miller's  on  account  of  his  supposed  insult  to  them  in 
his  farce  of  "  The  Coffee  House."  Bellchambers  says  the  piece 
referred  to  by  Gibber  was  "  The  Savage,"  8vo,  1736  ;  but  this  does 
not  seem  ever  to  have  been  acted. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  I  53 

he  would  mend  it  another  time,  and  would  take 
whatever  pleas'd  his  Judges  to  think  of  him  in  good 
part ;  and  I  have  often  thought  that  a  good  deal  of 
the  Favour  he  met  with  was  owing  to  this  seeming 
humble  way  of  waving  all  Pretences  to  Merit  but 
what  the  Town  would  please  to  allow  him.  What 
confirms  me  in  this  Opinion  is,  that  when  it  has  been 
his  ill  Fortune  to  meet  with  a  Disgraccia^  I  have 
known  him  say  apart  to  himself,  yet  loud  enough  to 

be  heard Odso  !  I  believe  I  am  a  little  wrong  here  ! 

which  once  was  so  well  receiv'd  by  the  Audience 
that  they  turn'd  their  Reproof  into  Applause.^ 

Now,  the  Judgment  of  Leigh  always  guarded  the 
happier  Sallies  of  his  Fancy  from  the  least  Hazard 
of  Disapprobation :  he  seem'd  not  to  court,  but  to 

^  This  probably  refers  to  the  incident  related  by  Davies  in  his 
"Dramatic  Miscellanies" :—"  In  the  play  of  the  'Recruiting 
Officer,'  Wilks  was  the  Captain  Plume,  and  Pinkethman  one  of 
the  recruits.  The  captain,  when  he  enlisted  him,  asked  his  name  : 
instead  of  answering  as  he  ought,  Pinkey  replied,  '  Why  !  don't 
you  know  my  name,  Bob?  I  thought  every  fool  had  known  that !' 
Wilks,  in  rage,  whispered  to  him  the  name  of  the  recruit,  Thomas 
Appletree.  The  other  retorted  aloud,  '  Thomas  Appletree  ?  Thomas 
Devil !  my  name  is  Will  Pinkethman  :'  and,  immediately  address- 
ing an  inhabitant  of  the  upper  regions,  he  said  '  Hark  you,  friend  ; 
don't  you  know  my  name?' — '  Yes,  Master  Pinkey,'  said  a  respon- 
dent, 'we  know  it  very  well.'  The  play-house  was  now  in  an 
uproar  :  the  audience,  at  first,  enjoyed  the  petulant  folly  of  Pinketh- 
man, and  the  distress  of  Wilks;  but,  in  the  progress  of  the  joke,  it 
grew  tiresome,  and  Pinkey  met  with  his  deserts,  a  very  severe  re- 
primand in  a  hiss ;  and  this  mark  of  displeasure  he  changed  into 
applause,  by  crying  out,  with  a  countenance  as  melancholy  as  he 
could  make  it,  in  a  loud  and  nasal  twang,  'Odso!  I  fear  I  am 
wrong'"  (iii.  89). 

154  THE    LIFE    OF 

attack  your  Applause,  and  always  came  off  victo- 
rious ;  nor  did  his  highest  Assurance  amount  to  any 
more  than  that  just  Confidence  without  which  the 
commendable  Spirit  of  every  good  Actor  must  be 
abated ;  and  of  this  Spirit  Leigh  was  a  most  perfect 
Master.  He  was  much  admir'd  by  King  Cha^des,  who 
us'd  to  distinguish  him  when  spoke  of  by  the  Title 
of  his  Actor:  Which  however  makes  me  imagine 
that  in  his  Exile  that  Prince  might  have  receiv'd  his 
first  Impression  of  good  Actors  from  the  French 
Stage ;  for  Leigh  had  more  of  that  farcical  Vivacity 
than  Nokes ;  but  Nokes  was  never  languid  by  his 
more  strict  Adherence  to  Nature,  and  as  far  as  my 
Judgment  is  worth  taking,  if  their  intrinsick  Merit 
could  be  justly  weigh'd,  Nokes  must  have  had  the 
better  in  the  Balance.  Upon  the  unfortunate  Death 
of  Monfort,  Leigh  fell  ill  of  a  Fever,  and  dy'd  in  a 
Week  after  him,  in  December  1692/ 

Underhil  was  a  correct  and  natural  Comedian,  his 
particular  Excellence  was  in  Characters  that  may  be 
called  Still-life,  I  mean  the  Stiff,  the  Heavy,  and  the 
Stupid ;  to  these  he  gave  the  exactest  and  most  ex- 
pressive Colours,  and  in  some  of  them  look'd  as  if  it 
were  not  in  the  Power  of  human  Passions  to  alter 
a  Feature  of  him.  In  the  solemn  Formality  of 
Obadiah  in  the  Committee,  and  in  the  boobily  Heavi- 
ness of  Lolpoop  in  the  Squire  of  Alsatia,  he  seem'd 
the  immoveable  Log  he  stood  for  !  a  Countenance 
of  Wood  could  not  be  more  fixt  than  his,  when  the 
'  See  memoir  of  Leigh  at  end  of  second  volume. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 55 

Blockhead  of  a  Character  required  it:  His  Face 
was  full  and  long  ;  from  his  Crown  to  the  end  of  his 
Nose  was  the  shorter  half  of  it,  so  that  the  Dispro- 
portion of  his  lower  Features,  when  soberly  com- 
pos'd,  with  an  unwandering  Eye  hanging  over  them, 
threw  him  into  the  most  lumpish,  moping  Mortal 
that  ever  made  Beholders  merry !  not  but  at  other 
times  he  could  be  wakened  into  Spirit  equally  ridi- 
culous  In  the  course,  rustick  Humour  of  Justice 

Clodpate,  in  Epsome  Wells^  he  was  a  delightful  Brute  ! 
and  in  the  blunt  Vivacity  of  Sir  Sampson,  in  Love  for 
Love,  he  shew'd  all  that  true  perverse  Spirit  that  is 
commonly  seen  in  much  Wit  and  Ill-nature.  This 
Character  is  one  of  those  few  so  well  written,  with 
so  much  Wit  and  Humour,  that  an  Actor  must  be 
the  grossest  Dunce  that  does  not  appear  with  an 
unusual  Life  in  it :  But  it  will  still  shew  as  great  a 
Proportion  of  Skill  to  come  near  Underhil  in  the 
acting  it,  which  (not  to  undervalue  those  who  soon 
came  after  him)  I  have  not  yet  seen.  He  was  par- 
ticularly admir'd  too  for  the  Grave-digger  in  Hamlet. 
The  Author  of  the  Tatler  recommends  him  to  the 
Favour  of  the  Town  upon  that  Play's  being  acted 
for  his  Benefit,  wherein,  after  his  Age  had  some 
Years  oblig'd  him  to  leave  the  Stage,  he  came  on 
again,  for  that  Day,  to  perform  his  old  Part ;  ^    but, 

'  By  Shadwell. 

-  Underhill  seems  to  have  partially  retired  about  the  beginning 
of  1707.  Replayed  Sir  Joslin  JoUey  on  5th  December,  1706, 
but  Bullock  played  it  on  gih  January,  1707,  and,  two  days  after, 


156  THE    LIFE    OF 

alas  !  so  worn  and  disabled,  as  if  himself  was  to  have 
lain  in  the  Grave  he  was  digging;  when  he  could 
no  more  excite  Laughter,  his  Infirmities  were  dis- 
miss'd  with  Pity :  He  dy'd  soon  after,  a  super- 
annuated Pensioner  in  the  List  of  those  who  were 
supported  by  the  joint  Sharers  under  the  first  Patent 
granted  to  Sir  Richard  Steele. 

The  deep  Impressions  of  these  excellent  Actors 
which  I  receiv'd  in  my  Youth,  I  am  afraid  may 
have  drawn  me  into  the  common  Foible  of  us  old 
Fellows ;  which  is  a  Fondness,  and  perhaps  a  tedious 
Partiality,  for  the  Pleasures  we  have  formerly  tasted, 
and  think  are  now  fallen  off  because  we  can  no 
longer  enjoy  them.  If  therefore  I  lie  under  that 
Suspicion,  tho'  I  have  related  nothing  incredible  or 
out  of  the  reach  of  a  good  Judge's  Conception,   I 

Johnson  played  Underhill's  part  of  the  First  Gravedigger.  Under- 
hill,  however,  played  in  "The  Rover"  on  20th  January,  1707. 
The  benefit  Gibber  refers  to  took  place  on  3rd  June,  1709. 
Underbill  played  the  Gravedigger  again  on  23rd  February,  17 10, 
and  on  12th  May,  17 10,  for  his  benefit,  he  played  Trincalo  in 
"The  Tempest."  Genest  says  he  acted  at  Greenwich  on  26th 
August,  1 7 10.  The  advertisement  in  the  "Tatler"  (26th  May, 
1709)  runs:  "Mr.  Cave  Underbill,  the  famous  Comedian  in  the 
Reigns  of  K.  Charles  ii.  K.  James  ii.  K.  William  and  Q.  Mary, 
and  her  present  Majesty  Q.  Anne;  but  now  not  able  to  perform 
so  often  as  heretofore  in  the  Play-house,  and  having  had  losses  to 
the  value  of  near  ^2,500,  is  to  have  the  Tragedy  of  Hamlet 
acted  for  his  Benefit,  on  Friday  the  third  of  June  next,  at  the 
Theatre-Royal  in  Drury-Lane,  in  which  he  is  to  perform  his 
Original  Part,  the  Grave-Maker.  Tickets  may  be  had  at  the  Mitre- 
Tavern  in  Fleet-Street."  See  also  memoir  of  Underbill  at  end 
of  second  volume. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 57 

must  appeal  to  those  Few  who  are  about  my  own 
Age  for  the  Truth  and  Likeness  of  these  Theatrical 

There  were  at  this  time  several  others  in  some 
degree  of  Favour  with  the  Publick,  Powel,^  Ver- 
bi'uggen^  Williams,^  &c.  But  as  I  cannot  think 
their  best  Improvements  made  them  in  any  wise 
equal  to  those  I  have  spoke' of,  I  ought  not  to  range 
them  in  the  same  Class.  Neither  were  Wilks  or 
Dogget  yet  come  to  the  Stage ;  nor  was  Booth 
initiated  till  about  six  Years  after  them  ;  or  Mrs. 
Oldjield  known  till  the  Year  1 700.  I  must  there- 
fore reserve  the  four  last  for  their  proper  Period, 
and   proceed    to   the    Actresses   that   were   famous 

^  See  memoir  of  Powel  at  end  of  second  volume. 

*  John  Verbruggen,  whose  name  Downes  spells  "  Vanbruggen," 
"Vantbrugg,"  and  "Verbruggen,"  is  first  recorded  as  having 
played  Termagant  in  "  The  Squire  of  Alsatia,"  at  the  Theatre 
Royal,  in  1688.  His  name  last  appears  in  August,  1707,  and  he 
must  have  died  not  long  after.  On  26th  April,  1708,  a  benefit 
was  announced  for  "  a  young  orphan  child  of  the  late  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Verbruggen."  He  seems  to  have  been  an  actor  of  great 
natural  power,  but  inartistic  in  method.  See  what  Anthony 
Aston  says  of  him.  Gibber  unfairly,  as  we  must  think,  seems 
carefully  to  avoid  mentioning  him  as  of  any  importance.  "  The 
Laureat,"  p.  58,  says :  "  I  wonder,  considering  our  Author's 
Particularity  of  Memory,  that  he  hardly  ever  mentions  Mr.  Ver- 

bruggen,  who  was  in  many  Characters  an  excellent  Actor 

I  cannot  conceive  why  Verbruggen  is  left  out  of  the  Number  of 
his  excellent  Actors ;  whether  some  latent  Grudge,  alia  Mente 
repostuin,  has  robb'd  him  of  his  Immortality  in  this  Work."  See 
also  memoir  of  Verbruggen  at  end  of  second  volume. 

^  See  memoir  of  Williams  at  end  of  second  volume. 

158  THE    LIFE    OF 

with  Betterton  at  the  latter  end  of  the  last   Cen- 

Mrs.  Barry  was  then  in  possession  of  almost  all 
the  chief  Parts  in  Tragedy  :  With  what  Skill  she 
gave  Life  to  them  you  will  judge  from  the  Words 
of  Dryden  in  his  Preface  to  Cleomenes,^  where  he 

Mrs.  Barry,  always  excellent,  has  in  this  Tragedy 
excelled  herself,  and  gain  d  a  Reputation  beyond  any 
Woman  I  have  ever  seen  on  the  Theatre. 

I  very  perfectly  remember  her  acting  that  Part ; 
and  however  unnecessary  it  may  seem  to  give  my 
Judgment  after  Dryden  s,  I  cannot  help  saying  I  do 
not  only  close  with  his  Opinion,  but  will  venture  to 
add  that  (tho'  Dryden  has  been  dead  these  Thirty 
Eight  Years)  the  same  Compliment  to  this  Hour 
may  be  due  to  her  Excellence.  And  tho'  she  was 
then  not  a  little  past  her  Youth,  she  was  not  till 
that  time  fully  arriv'd  to  her  maturity  of  Power  and 
Judgment :  From  whence  I  would  observe,  That 
the  short  Life  of  Beauty  is  not  long  enough  to  form 
a  complete  Actress.  In  Men  the  Delicacy  of  Per- 
son is  not  so  absolutely  necessary,  nor  the  Decline 
of  it  so  soon  taken  notice  of.  The  Fame  Mrs. 
Barry  arriv'd  to  is  a  particular  Proof  of  the  Diffi- 
culty there  is  in  judging  with  Certainty,  from  their 
first  Trials,  whether  young  People  will  ever  make 

^  Produced  at  the  Theatre  Royal  in  1692, 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  1 59 

any  great  Figure  on  a  Theatre.  There  was,  it 
seems,  so  little  Hope  of  Mrs.  Barry  at  her  first 
setting  out,  that  she  was  at  the  end  of  the  first 
Year  discharg'd  the  Company,  among  others  that 
were  thought  to  be  a  useless  Expence  to  it.  I  take 
it  for  granted  that  the  Objection  to  Mrs.  Barry  at 
that  time  must  have  been  a  defective  Ear,  or  some 
unskilful  Dissonance  in  her  manner  of  pronouncing  : 
But  where  there  is  a  proper  Voice  and  Person,  with 
the  Addition  of  a  good  Understanding,  Experience 
tells  us  that  such  Defect  is  not  always  invincible  ;  of 
which  not  only  Mrs.  Barjy,  but  the  late  Mrs.  Oldfield 
are  eminent  Instances.  Mrs.  Oldfield  had  been  a 
Year  in  the  Theatre-Royal  before  she  was  observ'd 
to  give  any  tolerable  Hope  of  her  being  an  Actress; 
so  unlike  to  all  manner  of  Propriety  was  her  Speak- 
ing ! '  How  unaccountably,  then,  does  a  Genius  for 
the  Stage  make  its  way  towards  Perfection  ?  For, 
notwithstanding  these  equal  Disadvantages,  both 
these  Actresses,  tho'  of  different  Excellence,  made 
themselves  complete  Mistresses  of  their  Art  by  the 
Prevalence  of  their  Understanding.  If  this  Obser- 
vation may  be  of  any  use  to  the  Masters  of  future 
Theatres,  I  shall  not  then  have  made  it  to  no 

^  In  Chapter  IX.  of  this  work  Gibber  gives  an  elaborate  account 
of  Mrs.  Oldfield.  He  remarks  there  that,  after  her  joining  the 
company,  "  she  remain'd  about  a  Twelvemonth  almost  a  Mute, 
and  unheeded." 

''-  See  memoir  of  IMrs.  Barry  at  end  of  second  volume. 

l60  THE    LIFE    OF 

Mrs.  Barry,  in  Characters  of  Greatness,  had  a 
Presence  of  elevated  Dignity,  her  Mien  and  Motion 
superb  and  gracefully  majestick ;  her  Voice  full, 
clear,  and  strong,  so  that  no  Violence  of  Passion 
could  be  too  much  for  her :  And  when  Distress  or 
Tenderness  possess'd  her,  she  subsided  into  the  most 
affecting  Melody  and  Softness.  In  the  Art  of  ex- 
citing Pity  she  had  a  Power  beyond  all  the  Actresses 
I  have  yet  seen,  or  what  your  Imagination  can  con- 
ceive. Of  the  former  of  these  two  great  Excellencies 
she  gave  the  most  delightful  Proofs  in  almost  all  the 
Heroic  Plays  of  Dry  den  and  Lee;  and  of  the  latter, 
in  the  softer  Passions  of  Otways  Monimia  and  Bel- 
videra}  In  Scenes  of  Anger,  Defiance,  or  Resent- 
ment, while  she  was  impetuous  and  terrible,  she 
pour'd  out  the  Sentiment  with  an  enchanting  Har- 
mony ;  and  it  was  this  particular  Excellence  for 
which  Drydeji  made  her  the  above-recited  Compli- 
ment upon  her  acting  Cassandra  in  his  Cleomenes. 
But  here  I  am  apt  to  think  his  Partiality  for  that 
Character  may  have  tempted  his  Judgment  to  let  It 
pass  for  her  Master-piece,  when  he  could  not  but 
know  there  were  several  other  Characters  in  which 
her  Action  might  have  given  her  a  fairer  Pretence 
to  the  Praise  he  has  bestow'd  on  her  for  Cassandra  ; 
for  in  no  Part  of  that  is  there  the  least  ground  for 
Compassion,  as  in  Monimia,  nor  equal  cause  for  Ad- 
miration, as  in  the  nobler  Love  of  Cleopatra,  or  the 

'  In  "The  Orphan,"  produced  at  Dorset  Garden  in  1680,  and 
in  "  Venice  Preserved,"  produced  at  the  same  theatre  in  1682 



MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  l6l 

tempestuous  Jealousy  of  Roxana}  'Twas  in  these 
Lights  I  thought  Mrs.  Barry  shone  with  a  much 
brighter  Excellence  than  in  Cassandra.  She  was 
the  first  Person  whose  Merit  was  distinguish'd  by 
the  Indulgence  of  having  an  annual  Benefit- Play, 
which  was  granted  to  her  alone,  if  I  mistake  not,  first 
in  YJ\xv^  James  s  time,^  and  which  became  not  common 
to  others  'till  the  Division  of  this  Company  after  the 
Death  of  King  William's  Queen  Maiy.  This  great 
Actress  dy'd  of  a  Fever  towards  the  latter  end  of 
Queen  Anne ;  the  Year  I  have  forgot  ;  but  perhaps 
you  will  recollect  it  by  an  Expression  that  fell  from 
her  in  blank  Verse,  in  her  last  Hours,  when  she  was 
delirious,  viz. 

Ha,  ha !  and  so  they  make  us  Loj'ds,  by  Dozens  ! ' 

Mrs.  Bettei'ton,  tho'  far  advanc'd  in  Years,  was  so 

^  In  "  The  Rival  Queens."  Mrs.  Marshall  was  the  original 
Roxana,  at  the  Theatre  Royal  in  1677.  So  far  as  we  know,  Mrs. 
Barry  had  not  played  Cleopatra  (Dryden's  "All  for  Love")  when 
Dryden  wrote  the  eulogy  Gibber  quotes.  Mrs.  Boutell  originally 
acted  the  part.  Theatre  Royal,  1678. 

^  Bellchambers  contradicts  Gibber,  saying  that  the  Agreement  of 
1 4th  October,  1 68 1  [see  Memoir  of  Hart],  shows  that  benefits  existed 
then.  The  words  referred  to  are,  "  the  day  the  young  men  or  young 
women  play  for  their  own  profit  only."  But  this  day  set  aside  for  the 
young  people  playing  was,  I  think,  quite  a  different  matter  from  a 
benefit  to  a  particular  performer.  Pepys  {21st  March,  1667)  says, 
"  The  young  men  and  women  of  the  house  .  .  .  having  liberty  to 
act  for  their  own  profit  on  Wednesdays  and  Fridays  this  Lent." 
These  were  evidently  "  scratch  "  performances  on  "off"  nights; 
and  it  is  to  these,  I  think,  that  the  agreement  quoted  refers. 

'  As  Dr.  Doran  points  out  ("Their  Majesties'  Servants,"  1888 

l62  THE    LIFE    OF 

great  a  Mistress  of  Nature  that  even  Mrs.  Barry, 
who  acted  the  Lady  Macbeth  after  her,  could  not  in 
that  Part,  with  all  her  superior  Strength  and  Melody 
of  Voice,  throw  out  those  quick  and  careless  Strokes 
of  Terror  from  the  Disorder  of  a  guilty  Mind,  which 
the  other  gave  us  with  a  Facility  in  her  Manner 
that  render'd  them  at  once  tremendous  and  delightful. 
Time  could  not  impair  her  Skill,  tho'  he  had  brought 
her  Person  to  decay.  She  was,  to  the  last,  the  Ad- 
miration of  all  true  Judges  of  Nature  and  Lovers  of 
Shakespcar,  in  whose  Plays  she  chiefly  excell'd,  and 
without  a  Rival.  When  she  quitted  the  Stage 
several  good  Actresses  were  the  better  for  her  In- 
struction. She  was  a  Woman  of  an  unblemish'd 
and  sober  life,  and  had  the  Honour  to  teach  Queen 
Anne,  when  Princess,  the  Part  of  Semandra  in  Mith- 
ridates,  which  she  acted  at  Court  in  King  Cha^'les?, 
time.  After  the  Death  of  Mr.  Betterton,  her  Hus- 
band, that  Princess,  when  Queen,  order'd  her  a  Pen- 
sion for  Life,  but  she  liv'd  not  to  receive  more  than 
the  first  half  Year  of  it.^ 

Mrs.  Leigh,  the  Wife  of  Leigh  already  mention'd, 
had  a  very  droll  way  of  dressing  the  pretty  Foibles 
of  superannuated  Beauties.  She  had  in  her  self  a 
good  deal  of  Humour,  and  knew  how  to  infuse  it 

edition,  i.  i6o)  this  does  not  settle  the  question  so  easily  as  Gibber 
supposes.  Twelve  Tory  peers  were  created  by  Queen  Anne  in 
the  last  few  days  of  1711,  and  Mrs.  Barry  did  not  die  till  the  end 
of  1713. 

'  See  memoir  of  Mrs.  Betterton  at  end  of  second  volume. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 63 

into  the  affected  Mothers,  Aunts,  and  modest  stale 
Maids  that  had  miss'd  their  Market ;  of  this  sort 
were  the  Modish  Mother  in  the  Chances,  affecting  to 
be  politely  commode  for  her  own  Daughter  ;  the 
Coquette  Prude  of  an  Aunt  in  Sir  Courtly  Nice, 
who  prides  herself  in  being  chaste  and  cruel  at  Fifty  ; 
and  the  languishing  Lady  Wishfo^H  in  The  Way  of 
the  World:  In  all  these,  with  many  others,  she  was 
extremely  entertaining,  and  painted  in  a  lively 
manner  the  blind  Side  of  Nature.^ 

Mrs.  BiUler,  who  had  her  Christian  Name  of 
CJiarlotte  given  her  by  King  Charles,  was  the 
Daughter  of  a  decay'd  Knight,  and  had  the  Honour 
of  that  Prince's  Recommendation  to  the  Theatre ;  a 
provident  Restitution,  giving  to  the  Stage  in  kind 
what  he  had  sometimes  taken  from  it :  The  Publick 
at  least  was  oblig'd  by  it ;  for  she  prov'd  not  only  a 
good  Actress,  but  was  allow'd  in  those  Days  to  sing 
and  dance  to  great  Perfection.  In  the  Dramatick 
Operas  of  Dioclesian  and  that  of  King  Arthur,  she 

^  Downes  includes  Mrs.  Leigh  among  the  recruits  to  the  Duke's 
Company  about  1670.  He  does  not  give  her  maiden  name,  but 
Genest  supposes  she  may  have  been  the  daughter  of  Dixon,  one 
of  Rhodes's  Company.  As  there  are  two  actresses  of  the  name 
of  Mrs.  Leigh,  and  one  Mrs.  Lee,  and  as  no  reliance  can  be 
placed  on  the  spelling  of  names  in  the  casts  of  plays,  it  is  practi- 
cally impossible  to  decide  accurately  the  parts  each  played.  This 
Mrs.  Leigh  seems  to  have  been  Elizabeth,  and  her  name  does  not 
appear  after  1707,  the  Eli.  Leigh  who  signed  the  petition  to  Queen 
Anne  in  1709  being  probably  a  younger  woman.  Bellchambers 
has  a  most  inaccurate  note  regarding  Mrs.  Leigh,  stating  that  she 
"  is  probably  not  a  distinct  person  from  Mrs.  Mary  Lee." 

164  THE    LIFE   OF 

was  a  capital  and  admired  Performer.  In  speaking, 
too,  she  had  a  sweet-ton'd  Voice,  which,  with  her 
naturally  genteel  Air  and  sensible  Pronunciation, 
render'd  her  wholly  Mistress  of  the  Amiable  in  many 
serious  Characters.  In  Parts  of  Humour,  too,  she 
had  a  manner  of  blending  her  assuasive  Softness 
even  with  the  Gay,  the  Lively,  and  the  Alluring. 
Of  this  she  gave  an  agreeable  Instance  in  her  Action 
of  the  ( Villiers)  Duke  of  Buckingham  s  second  Con- 
stantia  in  the  Chances.  In  which,  if  I  should  say  I 
have  never  seen  her  exceeded,  I  might  still  do  no 
wrong  to  the  late  Mrs.  Oldfield's  lively  Performance 
of  the  same  Character.  Mrs.  Oldfield's  Fame  may 
spare  Mrs.  Butler  s  Action  this  Compliment,  without 
the  least  Diminution  or  Dispute  of  her  Superiority 
in  Characters  of  more  moment.^ 

Here  I  cannot  help  observing,  when  there  was  but 
one  Theatre  in  London,  at  what  unequal  Sallaries, 
compar'd  to  those  of  later  Days,  the  hired  Actors  were 
then  held  by  the  absolute  Authority  of  their  frugal 
Masters  the  Patentees  ;  for  Mrs.  Butler  had  then 
but  Forty   Shillings  a  Week,  and  could  she  have 

'  Mrs.  Charlotte  Butler  is  mentioned  by  Downes  as  entering 
the  Duke's  Company  about  the  year  1673.  By  169 1  she  occupied 
an  important  position  as  an  actress,  and  in  1692  her  name  appears 
to  the  part  of  La  Pupsey  in  Durfey's  "  Marriage-Hater  Matched." 
This  piece  must  have  been  produced  early  in  the  year,  for  Ashbury, 
by  whom,  as  Cibber  relates,  she  was  engaged  for  Dublin,  opened 
his  season  on  23rd  March,  1692.  Hitchcock,  in  his  "View  of 
the  Irish  Stage,"  describes  her  as  "  an  actress  of  great  repute, 
and  a  prodigious  favourite  with  King  Charles  the  Second  "  (i.  21). 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 65 

obtain'd  an  Addition  of  Ten  Shillings  more  (which 
was  refus'd  her)  would  never  have  left  their  Service  ; 
but  being  offer'd  her  own  Conditions  to  go  with  Mr. 
Ashbury  ^  to  Dublin  (who  was  then  raising  a  Com- 
pany of  Actors  for  that  Theatre,  where  there  had 
been  none  since  the  Revolution)  her  Discontent 
here  prevail'd  with  her  to  accept  of  his  Offer,  and  he 
found  his  Account  in  her  Value.  Were  not  those 
Patentees  most  sagacious  Oeconomists  that  could 
lay  hold  on  so  notable  an  Expedient  to  lessen  their 
Charge  ?  How  gladly,  in  my  time  of  being  a  Sharer, 
would  we  have  given  four  times  her  Income  to  an 
Actress  of  equal  Merit  ? 

Mrs.  Monfort,  whose  second  Marriage  gave  her 
the  Name  of  Verbrttggen,  was  Mistress  of  more 
variety  of  Humour  than  I  ever  knew  in  any  one 
Woman  Actress.  This  variety,  too,  was  attended 
with  an  equal  Vivacity,  which  made  her  excellent  in 
Characters  extremely  different.  As  she  was  natu- 
rally a  pleasant  Mimick,  she  had  the  Skill  to  make 

^  Chetwood  gives  a  long  account  of  Joseph  Ashbury.  He  was 
born  in  1638,  and  served  for  some  years  in  the  army.  By  the 
favour  of  the  Duke  of  Ormond,  then  Lord  Lieutenant,  Ashbury 
was  appointed  successively  Deputy-Master  and  Master  of  the 
Revels  in  Ireland.  The  latter  appointment  he  seems  to  have 
received  in  1682,  though  Hitchcock  says  "  1672."  Ashbury 
managed  the  Dublin  Theatre  with  propriety  and  success,  and  was 
considered  not  only  the  principal  actor  in  his  time  there,  but  the 
best  teacher  of  acting  in  the  three  kingdoms.  Chetwood,  who 
saw  him  in  his  extreme  old  age,  pronounced  him  admirable  both 
in  Tragedy  and  Comedy.  He  died  in  1720,  at  the  great  age 
of  eighty-two. 

1 66  THE    LIFE   OF 

that  Talent  useful  on  the  Stage,  a  Talent  which  may- 
be surprising  in  a  Conversation  and  yet  be  lost  when 
brought  to  the  Theatre,  which  was  the  Case  of 
Estcoicrt  already  mention'd :  But  where  the  Elocution 
is  round,  distinct,  voluble,  and  various,  as  Mrs. 
Monforts,  was,  the  Mimick  there  is  a  great  Assistant 
to  the  Actor.  Nothing,  tho'  ever  so  barren,  if  within 
the  Bounds  of  Nature,  could  be  flat  in  her  Hands. 
She  gave  many  heightening  Touches  to  Characters 
but  coldly  written,  and  often  made  an  Author  vain 
of  his  Work  that  in  it  self  had  but  little  Merit.  She 
was  so  fond  of  Humour,  in  what  low  Part  soever  to 
be  found,  that  she  would  make  no  scruple  of  defacing 
her  fair  Form  to  come  heartily  into  it ;  ^  for  when 
she  was  eminent  in  several  desirable  Characters  of 
Wit  and  Humour  in  higher  Life,  she  would  be  in  as 
much  Fancy  when  descending  into  the  antiquated 
AbigaiP  of  Fletcher,  as  when  triumphing  in  all  the 
Airs  and  vain  Graces  of  a  fine  Lady ;  a  Merit  that 
few  Actresses  care  for.  In  a  Play  of  Dttrfey?,,  now 
foreotten,  call'd  The  Western  Lass^  which  Part  she 
acted,  she  transform'd  her  whole  Being,  Body,  Shape, 
Voice,   Language,  Look,  and  Features,  into  almost 

^  This  artistic  sense  was  shown  also  by  Margaret  Woffington, 
Davies  ("Life  of  Garrick,"  4th  edition,  i.  315)  writes  :  "in  Mrs. 
Day,  in  the  Committee,  she  made  no  scruple  to  disguise  her 
beautiful  countenance,  by  drawing  on  it  the  lines  of  deformity  and 
the  wrinkles  of  old  age,  and  to  put  on  the  tawdry  habiliments  and 
vulgar  manners  of  an  old  hypocritical  city  vixen." 

'  In  "  The  Scornful  Lady." 

"  "  The  Bath ;  or,  the  Western  Lass,"  produced  at  Drury  Lane 
in  1701, 

MR.    COLLKY   GIBBER.  1 6/ 

another  Animal,  with  a  strong  Devonshire  Dialect, 
a  broad  laughing  Voice,  a  poking  Head,  round 
Shoulders,  an  unconceiving  Eye,  and  the  most  be- 
diz'ning,  dowdy  Dress  that  ever  cover'd  the  untrain'd 
Limbs  of  a  Joan  Trot.  To  have  seen  her  here  you 
would  have  thought  it  impossible  the  same  Creature 
could  ever  have  been  recover'd  to  what  was  as  easy 
to  her,  the  Gay,  the  Lively,  and  the  Desirable.  Nor 
was  her  Humour  limited  to  her  Sex ;  for,  while  her 
Shape  permitted,  she  was  a  more  adroit  pretty  Fellow 
than  is  usually  seen  upon  the  Stage :  Her  easy  Air, 
Action,  Mien,  and  Gesture  quite  chang'd  from  the 
Quoif  to  the  cock'd  Hat  and  Cavalier  in  fashion.^ 
People  were  so  fond  of  seeing  her  a  Man,  that  when 
the  Part  of  Bays  in  the  Rehearsal  had  for  some  time 
lain  dormant,  she  was  desired  to  take  it  up,  which  I 
have  seen  her  act  with  all  the  true  coxcombly  Spirit 
and  Humour  that  the  Sufficiency  of  the  Character 

But  what  found  most  Employment  for  her  whole 
various  Excellence  at  once,  was  the  Part  of  Mela^itha 
in  Marriage- A  laniode?  Melantha  is  as  finish'd  an 
Impertinent  as  ever  flutter'd  in  a  Drawing- Room, 
and  seems  to  contain  the  most  compleat  System  of 
Female  Foppery  that  could  possibly  be  crowded  into 

1  It  is  curious  to  compare  with  this  Anthony  Aston's  outspoken 
criticism  on  Mrs.  Mountfort's  personal  appearance. 

^  Anthony  Aston  says  "  Melantha  was  her  Masterpiece."  Dry- 
den's  comedy  w^as  produced  at  the  Theatre  Royal  in  1672,  when 
Mrs.  Boutell  played  Melantha. 

1 68  THE    LIFE   OF 

the  tortured  Form  of  a  Fine  Lady.  Her  Language, 
Dress,  Motion,  Manners,  Soul,  and  Body,  are  in  a 
continual  Hurry  to  be  something  more  than  is  neces- 
sary or  commendable.  And  though  I  doubt  it  will 
be  a  vain  Labour  to  offer  you  a  just  Likeness  of  Mrs. 
Monfo7^t's  Action,  yet  the  fantastick  Impression  is 
still  so  strong  in  my  Memory  that  I  cannot  help 
saying  something,  tho'  fantastically,  about  it.  The 
first  ridiculous  Airs  that  break  from  her  are  upon  a 
Gallant  never  seen  before,  who  delivers  her  a  Letter 
from  her  Father  recommending  him  to  her  good 
Graces  as  an  honourable  Lover. ^  Here  now,  one 
would  think,  she  might  naturally  shew  a  little  of  the 
Sexe's  decent  Reserve,  tho'  never  so  slightly  cover'd ! 
No,  Sir ;  not  a  Tittle  of  it ;  Modesty  is  the  Virtue 
of  a  poor-soul'd  Country  Gentlewoman  ;  she  is  too 
much  a  Court  Lady  to  be  under  so  vulgar  a  Confu- 
sion ;  she  reads  the  Letter,  therefore,  with  a  careless, 
dropping  Lip  and  an  erected  Brow,  humming  it 
hastily  over  as  if  she  were  impatient  to  outgo  her 
Father's  Commands  by  making  a  compleat  Conquest 
of  him  at  once  ;  and  that  the  Letter  might  not  em- 
barrass her  Attack,  crack !  she  crumbles  it  at  once 
into  her  Palm  and  pours  upon  him  her  whole  Artil- 
lery of  Airs,  Eyes,  and  Motion  ;  down  goes  her 
dainty,  diving  Body  to  the  Ground,  as  if  she  were 
sinking  under  the  conscious  Load  of  her  own  Attrac- 
tions ;  then  launches  into  a  Flood  of  fine  Language 

^  Act  ii.  scene  i. 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  1 69 

and  Compliment,  still  playing  her  Chest  forward  in 
fifty  Falls  and  Risings,  like  a  Swan  upon  waving 
Water;  and,  to  complete  her  Impertinence,  she  is  so 
rapidly  fond  of  her  own  Wit  that  she  will  not  give 
her  Lover  Leave  to  praise  it :  Silent  assenting  Bows 
and  vain  Endeavours  to  speak  are  all  the  share  of 
the  Conversation  he  is  admitted  to,  which  at  last  he 
is  relieved  from  by  her  Engagement  to  half  a  Score 
Visits,  which  she  swims  from  him  to  make,  with  a 
Promise  to  return  in  a  Twinkling. 

If  this  Sketch  has  Colour  enough  to  give  you  any 
near  Conception  of  her,  I  then  need  only  tell  you 
that  throughout  the  whole  Character  her  variety  of 
Humour  was  every  way  proportionable  ;  as,  indeed, 
in  most  Parts  that  she  thought  worth  her  care  or 
that  had  the  least  Matter  for  her  Fancy  to  work 
upon,  I  may  justly  say,  That  no  Actress,  from  her 
own  Conception,  could  have  heighten'd  them  with 
more  lively  Strokes  of  Nature/ 

^  Mrs.  Mountfort,  originally  Mrs.  (that  is  Miss)  Percival,  and 
afterwards  Mrs.  Verbruggen,  is  first  mentioned  as  the  representa- 
tive of  Winifrid,  a  young  Welsh  jilt,  in  "  Sir  Barnaby  Whigg,"  a 
comedy  produced  at  the  Theatre  Royal  in  168 1.  As  Diana,  in 
"The  Lucky  Chance"  (1687),  Genest  gives  her  name  as  Mrs. 
Mountfort,  late  Mrs.  Percival ;  so  that  her  marriage  with  Mount- 
fort  must  have  taken  place  about  the  end  of  1686  or  beginning  of 
1687.  Mountfort  was  killed  in  1692,  and  in  1694  the  part  of 
Mary  the  Buxom,  in  "  Don  Quixote,"  part  first,  is  recorded  by 
Genest  as  played  by  Mrs.  Verbruggen,  late  Mrs.  Mountfort.  In 
1702,  in  the  "Comparison  between  the  Two  Stages,"  Gildon  pro- 
nounces her  "a  miracle."  In  1703  she  died.  She  was  the 
original  representative  of,  among  other  characters,  Nell,  in  "  Devil 

I/O  THE   LIFE    OF 

I  come  now  to  the  last,  and  only  living  Person,  of 
all  those  whose  Theatrical  Characters  I  have  pro- 
mised you,  Mrs.  Bracegirdle ;  who,  I  know,  would 
rather  pass  her  remaining  Days  forgotten  as  an 
Actress,  than  to  have  her  Youth  recollected  in  the 
most  favourable  Light  I  am  able  to  place  it ;  yet,  as 
she  is  essentially  necessary  to  my  Theatrical  History, 
and  as  I  only  bring  her  back  to  the  Company  of 
those  with  whom  she  pass'd  the  Spring  and  Summer 
of  her  Life,  I  hope  it  will  excuse  the  Liberty  I  take 
in  commemorating  the  Delight  which  the  Publick 
received  from  her  Appearance  while  she  was  an 
Ornament  to  tha  Theatre. 

Mrs.  Bracegirdle  was  now  but  just  blooming  to  her 
Maturity ;  her  Reputation  as  an  Actress  gradually 
rising  with  that  of  her  Person ;  never  any  Woman 
was  in  such  general  Favour  of  her  Spectators,  which, 
to  the  last  Scene  of  her  Dramatick  Life,  she  main- 
tain'd  by  not  being  unguarded  in  her  private  Cha- 
racter.^    This  Discretion  contributed  not  a  little  to 

of  a  Wife;"  Belinda,  in  "The  Old  Bachelor;"  Lady  Froth,  in 
"The  Double  Dealer;"  Charlott  Welldon,  in  "Oroonoko;" 
Berinthia,  in  "Relapse;"  Lady  Lurewell ;  Lady  Brumpton,  in 
"  The  Funeral ;"  Hypolita,  in  "  She  Would  and  She  Would  Not ;" 
and  Hillaria,  in  "  Tunbridge  Walks." 

^  Bellchambers  has  here  a  most  uncharitable  note,  which  I 
quote  as  curious,  though  I  must  add  that  there  is  not  a  shadow  of 
proof  of  the  truth  of  it. 

"  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  was  decidedly  not  '  unguarded '  in  her  con- 
duct, for  though  the  object  of  general  suspicion,  no  proof  of  posi- 
tive unchastity  was  ever  brought  against  her.  Her  intrigue  with 
Mountfort,  who  lost  his  life  in  consequence  of  it,  (i)  is  hardly  to 


make  her  the  Cara,  the  Darling  of  the  Theatre  :  For 
it  will  be  no  extravagant  thing  to  say,  Scarce  an 
Audience  saw  her  that  were  less  than  half  of  them 
Lovers,  without  a  suspected  Favourite  among  them  : 

be  disputed,  and  there  is  pretty  ample  evidence  that  Congreve 
was  honoured  with  a  gratification  of  his  amorous  desires.  (2) 

(i)  " '  We  had  not  parted  with  him  as  many  minutes  as  a  man 
may  beget  his  likeness  in,  but  who  should  we  meet  but  Mountfort 
the  player,  looking  as  pale  as  a  ghost,  sailing  forward  as  gently  as 
a  caterpillar  'cross  a  sycamore  leaf,  gaping  for  a  little  air,  like  a 
sinner  just  come  out  of  the  powdering-tub,  crying  out  as  he  crept 
towards  us,  "  O  my  back  !  Confound  'em  for  a  pack  of  brimstones  : 
O  my  back  !" — "How  now,  Sir  Courtly,''  said  I,  "what  the  devil 
makes  thee  in  this  pickle  ?  " — "  O,  gentlemen,"  says  he,  "  I  am  glad 
to  see  you ;  but  I  am  troubled  with  such  a  weakness  in  my  back, 
that  it  makes  me  bend  like  a  superannuated  fornicator."  "Some 
strain,"  said  I,  "  got  in  the  other  world,  with  overheaving  yourself." 
— "  What  matters  it  how  'twas  got,"  says  he ;  "  can  you  tell  me  any- 
thing that's  good  for  it  ?  "  "  Yes,"  said  I ;  "  get  a  warm  girdle  and 
tie  round  you ;  'tis  an  excellent  corroborative  to  strengthen  the 
loins." — "Pox  on  you,"  says  he,  "for  a  bantering  dog  !  how  can  a 
single  girdle  do  me  good,  when  a  Brace  was  my  destruction?"' — 
Brown's  'Letters  from  the  Dead  to  the  Living'  [1744,  ii.  186]. 

(2)  "  In  one  of  those  infamous  collections  known  by  the  name  of 
'  Poems  on  State  Affairs '  [iv.  49],  there  are  several  obvious, 
though  coarse  and  detestable,  hints  of  this  connexion.  Collier's 
severity  against  the  stage  is  thus  sarcastically  deprecated,  in  a  short 
piece  called  the  '  Benefits  of  a  Theatre.' 

Shall  a  place  be  put  down,  when  we  see  it  affords 
Fit  wives  for  great  poets,  and  whores  for  great  lords? 
Since  Angelica,  bless'd  with  a  singular  grace, 
Had,  by  her  fine  acting,  preserv'd  all  his  plays. 
In  an  amorous  rapture,  young  Valentine  said. 
One  so  fit  for  his  plays  might  be  fit  for  his  bed. 


172  THE    LIFE    OF 

And  tho'  she  miCTht  be  said  to  have  been  the  Universal 
Passion,  and  under  the  highest  Temptations,  her 
Constancy  in  resisting  them  served  but  to  increase 
the  number  of  her  Admirers  :  And  this  perhaps  you 
will  more  easily  believe  when  I  extend  not  my  En- 
comiums on  her  Person  beyond  a  Sincerity  that  can 
be  suspected ;  for  she  had  no  greater  Claim  to 
Beauty  than  what  the  most  desirable  Brtniette  might 
pretend  to.  But  her  Youth  and  lively  Aspect  threw 
out  such  a  Glow  of  Health  and  Chearfulness,  that  on 
the  Stage  few  Spectators  that  were  not  past  it  could 
behold  her  without  Desire.  It  was  even  a  Fashion 
among  the  Gay  and  Young  to  have  a  Taste  or  Tendre 
for  Mrs.  Bracegirdle.  She  inspired  the  best  Authors 
to  write  for  her,  and  two  of  them,^  when  they  gave 
her  a  Lover  in  a  Play,  seem'd  palpably  to  plead  their 
own  Passions,  and  make  their  private  Court  to  her  in 

"  The  allusion  to  Congreve  and  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  wants,  of  course, 
no  corroboration ;  but  the  hint  at  their  marriage,  broached  in  the 
half  line  I  have  italicised,  is  a  curious  though  unauthorized  fact. 
From  the  verses  I  shall  continue  to  quote,  it  will  appear  that  this 
marriage  between  the  parties,  though  thought  to  be  private,  was 
currently  believed ;  it  is  an  expedient  that  has  often  been  used,  in 
similar  cases,  to  cover  the  nakedness  of  outrageous  lust. 
He  warmly  pursues  her,  she  yielded  her  charms. 
And  bless'd  the  kind  youngster  in  her  kinder  arms : 
But  at  length  the  poor  nymph  did  for  justice  implore, 

And  his  married  her  now,  though  he'd her  before. 

"  On  a  subsequent  page  of  the  same  precious  miscellany,  there  is 
a  most  offensive  statement  of  the  cause  which  detached  our  great 
comic  writer  from  the  object  of  his  passion.     The  thing  is  too 
filthy  to  be  even  described." 
^  Rowe  and  Congreve. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBKR.  I  73 

fictitious  Characters.  In  all  the  chief  Parts  she  acted, 
the  Desirable  was  so  predominant,  that  no  Judge 
could  be  cold  enough  to  consider  from  what  other 
particular  Excellence  she  became  delightful.  To 
speak  critically  of  an  Actress  that  was  extremely- 
good  were  as  hazardous  as  to  be  positive  in  one's 
Opinion  of  the  best  Opera  Singer.  People  often 
judge  by  Comparison  where  there  is  no  Similitude 
in  the  Performance.  So  that,  in  this  case,  we  have 
only  Taste  to  appeal  to,  and  of  Taste  there  can  be 
no  disputing.  1  shall  therefore  only  say  of  Mrs. 
Bracegirdle,  That  the  most  eminent  Authors  always 
chose  her  for  their  favourite  Character,  and  shall 
leave  that  uncontestable  Proof  of  her  Merit  to  its 
own  Value.  Yet  let  me  say,  there  were  two  very 
different  Characters  in  which  she  acquitted  herself 
with  uncommon  Applause :  If  any  thing  could  ex- 
cuse that  desperate  Extravagance  of  Love,  that 
almost  frantick  Passion  of  Lee^  Alexander  the  Great, 
it  must  have  been  when  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  was  his 
Statira :  As  when  she  acted  Millamant  ^  all  the 
Faults,  trollies,  and  Affectations  of  that  agreeable 
Tyrant  were  venially  melted  down  into  so  many 
Charms  and  Attractions  of  a  conscious  Beauty.  In 
other  Characters,  where  Singing  was  a  necessary 
Part  of  them,  her  Voice  and  Action  gave  a  Pleasure 
which  good  Sense,  in  those  Days,  was  not  asham'd 
to  give  Praise  to. 

She  retir'd  from  the  Stare  in  the  HeiMit  of  her 
'  In  Congrcve's  "Way  of  the  World." 

174  THE    LIFE    OF 

Favour  from  the  Publick,  when  most  of  her  Cotem- 
poraries  whom  she  had  been  bred  up  with  were  declin- 
ing, in  the  Year  1710/  nor  could  she  be  persuaded 
to  return  to  it  under  new  Masters  upon  the  most  ad- 
vantageous Terms  that  were  offered  her ;  excepting 
one  Day,  about  a  Year  after,  to  assist  her  good  Friend 
Mr.  Betterton,  when  she  play'd  Angelica  in  Love  for 
Love  for  his  Benefit.  She  has  still  the  Happiness  to 
retain  her  usual  Chearfulness,  and  to  be,  without  the 
transitory  Charm  of  Youth,  agreeable.^ 

If,  in  my  Account  of  these  memorable  Actors,  I 

^  Gibber's  chronology  is  a  little  shaky  here.  Mrs.  Bracegirdle's 
name  appeared  for  the  last  time  in  the  bill  of  20th  February,  1707. 
Betterton's  benefit,  for  which  she  returned  to  the  stage  for  one 
night,  took  place  on  7th  April,  1709. 

^  Mrs.  Anne  Bracegirdle  made  her  first  appearance  on  the 
stage  as  a  very  young  child.  In  the  cast  of  Otway's  "  Orphan," 
t68o,  the  part  of  Cordelio,  Polydore's  Page,  is  said  to  be  played 
by  "  the  little  girl,"  who,  Curll  ("  History,"  p.  26)  informs  us,  was 
Anne  Bracegirdle,  then  less  than  six  years  of  age.  In  1688  her 
name  appears  to  the  part  of  Lucia  in  "  The  Squire  of  Alsatia ; " 
but  it  is  not  till  1691  that  she  can  be  said  to  have  regularly 
entered  upon  her  career  as  an  actress.  She  was  the  original 
representative  of  some  of  the  most  famous  heroines  in  comedy : 
Araminta,  in  "The  Old  Bachelor;"  Cynthia,  in  "The  Double 
Dealer ;  "  Angelica,  in  "  Love  for  Love ; "  Belinda,  in  "  The  Pro- 
voked Wife ;  "  Millamant ;  Flippanta,  in  "  The  Confederacy," 
and  many  others.  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  appears  to  have  been  a  good 
and  excellent  woman,  as  well  as  a  great  actress.  All  the  scandal 
about  her  seems  to  have  had  no  further  foundation  than,  to  quote 
Genest,  "  the  extreme  difficulty  with  which  an  actress  at  this  period 
of  the  stage  must  have  preserved  her  chastity."  Genest  goes  on  to 
remark,  with  delicious  naivete,  "Mrs.  Bracegirdle  was  perhaps  a 
woman  of  a  cold  constitution."     Her  retirement  from  the  stage 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  I  75 

have  not  deviated  from  Truth,  which,  in  the  least 
Article,  I  am  not  conscious  of,  may  we  not  venture 
to  say,  They  had  not  their  Equals,  at  any  one  Time, 
upon  any  Theatre  in  Europe'^  Or,  if  we  confine 
the  Comparison  to  that  of  France  alone,  I  believe 
no  other  Stage  can  be  much  disparag'd  by  being 
left  out  of  the  question  ;  which  cannot  properly  be 
decided  by  the  single  Merit  of  any  one  Actor ; 
whether  their  Bai'on  or  our  Bettcrto7i  might  be 
the  Superior,  (take  which  Side  you  please)  that 
Point  reaches,  either  way,  but  to  a  thirteenth  part  of 
what  I  contend  for,  viz.  That  no  Stage,  at  any  one 
Period,  could  shew  thirteen  Actors,  standing  all  in 
equal  Lights  of  Excellence  in  their  Profession  :  And 
I  am  the  bolder,  in  this  Challenge  to  any  other 
Nation,  because  no  Theatre  having  so  extended  a 

when  not  much  over  thirty  is  accounted  for  by  Curll,  by  a  story  of 
a  competition  between  her  and  Mrs.  Oldfield  in  the  part  of  Mrs. 
Brittle  in  "  The  Amorous  Widow,"  in  which  the  latter  was  the  more 
applauded.  He  says  that  they  played  the  part  on  two  successive 
nights ;  but  I  have  carefully  examined  Dr.  Burney's  MSS.  in  the 
British  Museum  for  the  season  1 706-7,  and  "  The  Amorous  Widow  " 
was  certainly  not  played  twice  successively.  I  doubt  the  story 
altogether.  That  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  retired  because  Mrs.  Oldfield 
was  excelling  her  in  popular  estimation  is  most  likely,  but  I  can 
find  no  confirmation  whatever  for  Curll's  story.  "  The  Laureat," 
p.  36,  attributes  her  retirement  to  Mrs.  Oldfield's  being  "  preferr'd 
to  some  Parts  before  her,  by  our  very  Apologist " ;  but  though  the 
reason  thus  given  is  probably  accurate,  the  person  blamed  is  as 
probably  guiltless  ;  for  I  do  not  think  Gibber  could  have  sufficient 
authority  to  distribute  parts  in  1706-7.  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  died 
September,  1748,  but  was  dead  to  the  stage  from  1709.  Gibber's 
remark  on  p.  99  had  therefore  no  reference  to  her. 

176  THE    LIFE    OF 

Variety  of  natural  Characters  as  the  English,  can 
have  a  Demand  for  Actors  of  such  various  Capaci- 
ties ;  why  then,  where  they  could  not  be  equally 
wanted,  should  we  suppose  them,  at  any  one  time,  to 
have  existed  ? 

How  imperfect  soever  this  copious  Account  of 
them  may  be,  I  am  not  without  Hope,  at  least,  it 
may  in  some  degree  shew  what  Talents  are  requisite 
to  make  Actors  valuable  :  And  if  that  may  any  ways 
inform  or  assist  the  Judgment  of  future  Spectators, 
it  may  as  often  be  of  service  to  their  publick  Enter- 
tainments ;  for  as  their  Hearers  are,  so  will  Actors 
be ;  worse,  or  better,  as  the  false  or  true  Taste  ap- 
plauds or  discommends  them.  Hence  only  can  our 
Theatres  improve  or  must  degenerate. 

There  is  another  Point,  relating  to  the  hard  Con- 
dition of  those  who  write  for  the  Stage,  which  I  would 
recommend  to  the  Consideration  of  their  Hearers  ; 
which  is,  that  the  extreme  Severity  with  which  they 
damn  a  bad  Play  seems  too  terrible  a  Warning  to 
those  whose  untried  Genius  might  hereafter  give 
them  a  good  one :  Whereas  it  might  be  a  Tempta- 
tion to  a  latent  Author  to  make  the  Experiment, 
could  he  be  sure  that,  though  not  approved,  his 
Muse  might  at  least  be  dismiss'd  with  Decency: 
But  the  Vivacity  of  our  modern  Criticks  is  of  late 
grown  so  riotous,  that  an  unsuccessful  Author  has  no 
more  Mercy  shewn  him  than  a  notorious  Cheat  in 
a  Pillory ;  every  Fool,  the  lowest  Member  of  the  Mob, 
becomes  a  Wit,  and  will  have  a  fling  at  him.     They 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  177 

come  now  to  a  new  Play  like  Hounds  to  a  Carcase, 
and  are  all  In  a  full  Cry,  sometimes  for  an  Hour 
together,  before  the  Curtain  rises  to  throw  it  amongst 
them.  Sure  those  Gentlemen  cannot  but  allow  that 
a  Play  condemned  after  a  fair  Hearing  falls  with 
thrice  the  Ignominy  as  when  it  is  refused  that  com- 
mon Justice. 

But  when  their  critical  Interruptions  grow  so  loud, 
and  of  so  long  a  Continuance,  that  the  Attention  of 
quiet  People  (though  not  so  complete  Criticks)  is 
terrify 'd,  and  the  Skill  of  the  Actors  quite  discon- 
certed by  the  Tumult,  the  Play  then  seems  rather  to 
fall  by  Assassins  than  by  a  Lawful  Sentence.^  Is  it 
possible  that  such  Auditors  can  receive  Delight,  or 
think  it  any  Praise  to  them,  to  prosecute  so  injurious, 
so  unmanly  a  Treatment  ?  And  tho'  perhaps  the 
Compassionate,  on  the  other  side  (who  know  they 
have  as  good  a  Right  to  clap  and  support,  as  others 
have  to  catcall,  damn,  and  destroy,)  may  oppose  this 
Oppression;  their  Good- nature,  alas!  contributes 
little  to  the  Redress ;  for  in  this  sort  of  Civil  War 
the  unhappy  Author,  like  a  good  Prince,  while  his 
Subjects  are  at  mortal  Variance,  is  sure  to  be  a  Loser 
by  a  Victory  on  either  Side ;  for  still  the  Common- 
wealth, his  Play,  is,  during  the  Conflict,  torn  to  pieces. 
While  this  is  the  Case,  while  the  Theatre  is  so  tur- 
bulent a  Sea   and  so    infested   with    Pirates,    what 

'  Gibber  writes  here  with  feeling;  for,  after  his  "Nonjuror" 
abused  the  Jacobites  and  Nonjurors,  that  party  took  every  oppor- 
tunity of  revenging  themselves  on  him  by  maltreating  his  plays. 

I  78  THE    LIFE    OF 

Poetical  Merchant  of  any  Substance  will  venture  to 
trade  in  it  ?  If  these  valiant  Gentlemen  pretend  to 
be  Lovers  of  Plays,  why  will  they  deter  Gentlemen 
from  giving  them  such  as  are  fit  for  Gentlemen  to 
see  ?  In  a  word,  this  new  Race  of  Cri ticks  seem  to 
me  like  the  Lion-Whelps  in  the  Tower,  who  are  so 
boisterously  gamesome  at  their  Meals  that  they  dash 
down  the  Bowls  of  Milk  brought  for  their  own 

As  a  good  Play  is  certainly  the  most  rational  and 
the  highest  Entertainment  that  Human  Invention 
can  produce,  let  that  be  my  Apology  (if  I  need  any) 
for  having  thus  freely  deliver'd  my  Mind  in  behalf 
of  those  Gentlemen  who,  under  such  calamitous 
Hazards,  may  hereafter  be  reduced  to  write  for  the 
Stage,  whose  Case  I  shall  compassionate  from  the 
same  Motive  that  prevail'd  on  Dido  to  assist  the 
Trojans  in  Distress. 

Non  ignara  malt  miseris  siiccurrere  disco.     Virg.^ 

Or,  as  Dry  den  has  it, 

/  learn  to  pity  Woes  so  like  my  own. 

If  those  particular  Gentlemen  have  sometimes 
made  me  the  humbled  Object  of  their  Wit  and 
Humour,  their  Triumph  at  least  has  done  me  this 
involuntary  Service,  that  it  has  driven  me  a  Year  or 
two  sooner  into  a  quiet  Life  than  otherwise  my  own 

^  See  a7ite,  p.  63,  for  an  allusion  to  this  passage  by  Fielding 
in  "  The  Champion." 
^  ^neid,  i.  630. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 79 

want  of  Judgment  might  have  led  me  to  :  ^  I  left  the 
Stage  before  my  Strength  left  me,  and  tho'  I  came  to 
it  again  for  some  few  Days  a  Year  or  two  after,  my 
Reception  there  not  only  turn'd  to  my  Account,  but 
seem'd  a  fair  Invitation  that  I  would  make  my  Visits 
more  frequent :  But  to  give  over  a  Winner  can  be 
no  very  imprudent  Resolution.^ 

^  This  is  a  curious  statement,  and  has  never,  so  far  as  I  know, 
been  commented  on ;  the  cause  of  Gibber's  retirement  having 
always  been  considered  mysterious.  I  suppose  this  reference  to 
ill-treatment  must  be  held  as  confirming  Davies's  statement  that 
the  public  lost  patience  at  Gibber's  continually  playing  tragic  parts, 
and  fairly  hissed  him  off  the  stage.  Davies  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii. 
471)  relates  the  following  incident:  "When  Thomson's  Sopho- 
nisba  was  read  to  the  actors,  Gibber  laid  his  hand  upon  Scipio, 
a  character,  which,  though  it  appears  only  in  the  last  act,  is  of 
great  dignity  and  importance.  For  two  nights  successively,  Gibber 
was  as  much  exploded  as  any  bad  actor  could  be.  Williams,  by 
desire  of  Wilks,  made  himself  master  of  the  part ;  but  he,  march- 
ing slowly,  in  great  military  distinction,  from  the  upper  part  of  the 
stage,  and  wearing  the  same  dress  as  Gibber,  was  mistaken  for 
him,  and  met  with  repeated  hisses,  joined  to  the  music  of  cat- 
cals  ;  but,  as  soon  as  the  audience  were  undeceived,  they  con- 
verted their  groans  and  hisses  to  loud  and  long  continued  applause." 

'  Gibber  retired  in  May,  1733.  The  reappearance  he  refers  to 
was  not  that  he  made  in  1738,  as  Bellchambers  states.  He  no 
doubt  alludes  to  his  performances  in  1734-35,  when  he  played 
Bayes,  Lord  Foppington,  Sir  John  Brute,  and  other  comedy  parts. 
On  the  nights  he  played,  the  compliment  was  paid  him  of  putting 
no  name  in  the  bill  but  his  own. 


The  Author's  first  Step  upon  the  Stage.  His  Discouragements.  The 
best  Actors  in  Europe  ///  us'd.  A  Revolution  in  their  Favour. 
Kijig  William  grants  thetn  a  Licence  to  act  in  Lincoln's-Inn 
Fields.  The  Author'' s  Distress  in  being  thought  a  worse  Actor 
than  a  Poet.  Reduc'd  to  write  a  Part  for  himself.  His  Success, 
More  Remarks  upon  Theatrical  Action.     Some  upon  himself. 

HAVING  given  you  the  State  of  the  Theatre 
at  my  first  Admission  to  it,  I  am  now  drawing 
towards  the  several  Revolutions  it  suffer'd  in  my 
own  Time.  But  (as  you  find  by  the  setting  out  of 
my  History)  that  I  always  intended  myself  the 
Heroe  of  it,  it  may  be  necessary  to  let  you  know  me 
in  my  Obscurity,  as  well  as  in  my  higher  Light,  when 
I  became  one  of  the  Theatrical  Triumvirat. 

THE    LIFE    OF    MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  l8l 

The  Patentees/  who  were  now  Masters  of  this 
united  and  only  Company  of  Comedians,  seem'd  to 
make  It  a  Rule  that  no  young  Persons  desirous  to  be 
Actors  should  be  admitted  into  Pay  under  at  least 
half  a  Year's  Probation,  wisely  knowing  that  how 
early  soever  they  might  be  approv'd  of,  there  could 
be  no  great  fear  of  losing  them  while  they  had  then 
no  other  Market  to  go  to.  But,  alas !  Pay  was  the 
least  of  my  Concern  ;  the  Joy  and  Privilege  of  every 
Day  seeing  Plays  for  nothing  I  thought  was  a  suffi- 
cient Consideration  for  the  best  of  my  Services.  So 
that  it  was  no  Pain  to  my  Patience  that  I  waited  full 
three  Quarters  of  a  Year  before  I  was  taken  into  a 
Salary  of  Ten  Shillings /^r  Week  ;^  which,  with  the 
Assistance   of   Food  and   Raiment  at  my  Father's 

^  The  original  holders  of  the  Patents,  Sir  William  Davenant  and 
Thomas  Killigrew,  were  dead  in  1690;  and  their  successors, 
Alexander  Davenant,  to  whom  Charles  Davenant  had  assigned  his 
interest,  and  Charles  Killigrew,  seem  to  have  taken  little  active 
interest  in  the  management ;  for  Christopher  Rich,  who  acquired 
Davenant's  share  in  1691,  seems  at  once  to  have  become  managing 

-  Davies  ("  Dramatic  Miscellanies,"  iii.  444)  gives  the  following 
account  of  Cibber's  first  salary :  "  But  Mr.  Richard  Cross,  late 
prompter  of  Drury-lane  theatre,  gave  me  the  following  history 
of  Colley  Cibber's  first  establishment  as  a  hired  actor.  He  was 
known  only,  for  some  years,  by  the  name  of  Master  Colley.  After 
waiting  impatiently  a  long  time  for  the  prompter's  notice,  by  good 
fortune  he  obtained  the  honour  of  carrying  a  message  on  the 
stage,  in  some  play,  to  Betterton.  Whatever  was  the  cause.  Master 
Colley  was  so  terrified,  that  the  scene  was  disconcerted  l)y  him. 
Betterton  asked,  in  some  anger,  who  the  young  fellow  was  that  had 
committed  the  blunder.  Downes  replied,  '  Master  Colley.' — 
'  Master  Colley  !  then  forfeit  him.'—'  Why,  sir,'  said  the  prompter, 

152  THE    LIFE    OF 

House,  I  then  thought  a  most  plentiful  Accession, 
and  myself  the  happiest  of  Mortals. 

The  first  Thing  that  enters  into  the  Head  of  a  young 
Actor  is  that  of  being  a  Heroe  :  In  this  Ambition  I 
was  soon  snubb'd  by  the  Insufficiency  of  my  Voice  ; 
to  which  mio;ht  be  added  an  uninform'd  measfre 
Person,  (tho'  then  not  ill  made)  with  a  dismal  pale 
Complexion,^  Under  these  Disadvantages,^  I  had 
but  a  melancholy  Prospect  of  ever  playing  a  Lover 
with  Mrs.  Bracegirdle,  which  I  had  flatter'd  my  Hopes 
that  my  Youth  might  one  Day  have  recommended  me 
to.  What  was  most  promising  in  me,  then,  was  the 
Aptness  of  my  Ear  ;  for  I  was  soon  allow'd  to  speak 

'he  has  no  salary.' — 'No!'  said  the  old  man;  'why  then  put 
him  down  ten  shillings  a  week,  and  forfeit  him  5x."' 

^  Complexion  is  a  point  of  no  importance  now,  and  this  allusion 
suggests  a  theory  to  me  which  I  give  with  all  diffidence.  We 
know  that  actresses  painted  in  Pepys's  time  ("  1667,  Oct.  5.  But, 
Lord !  To  see  how  they  [Nell  G^vynne  and  Mrs.  Knipp]  were 
both  painted  would  make  a  man  mad,  and  did  make  me  loathe 
them  "),  and  we  also  know  that  Dogget  was  famous  for  the  painting 
of  his  face  to  represent  old  age.  If,  then,  complexion  was  a  point 
of  importance  for  a  lover,  as  Gibber  states,  it  suggests  that  young 
actors  playing  juvenile  parts  did  not  use  any  "  make-up"  or  paint, 
but  went  on  the  stage  in  their  natural  complexion.  The  lighting 
of  the  stage  was  of  course  much  less  brilliant  than  it  afterwards 
became,  so  that  "make-up"  was  not  so  necessary. 

^  "The  Laureat"  (p.  103)  describes  Gibber's  person  thus: — 
"  He  was  in  Stature  of  the  middle  Size,  his  Gomplexion  fair, 
inclinable  to  the  Sandy,  his  Legs  somewhat  of  the  thickest,  his 
Shape  a  little  clumsy,  not  irregular,  and  his  Voice  rather  shrill 
than  loud  or  articulate,  and  crack'd  extremely,  when  he  endea- 
vour'd  to  raise  it.  He  was  in  his  younger  Days  so  lean,  as  to  be 
known  by  the  Name  q{ Hatchet  Face'' 


justly,  tho'  what  was  grave  and  serious  did  not 
equally  become  me.  The  first  Part,  therefore,  in 
which  I  appear'd  with  any  glimpse  of  Success,  was 
the  Chaplain  ^  in  the  Orphan  of  Otway.  There  is  in 
this  Character  (of  one  Scene  only)  a  decent  Plea- 
santry, and  Sense  enough  to  shew  an  Audience 
whether  the  Actor  has  any  himself.  Here  was  the 
first  Applause  I  ever  receiv'd,  which,  you  may  be 
sure,  made  my  Heart  leap  with  a  higher  Joy  than 
may  be  necessary  to  describe ;  and  yet  my  Trans- 
port was  not  then  half  so  high  as  at  what  Goodman 
(who  had  now  left  the  Stage)  said  of  me  the  next 
Day  in  my  hearing.  Goodman  often  came  to  a  Re- 
hearsal for  Amusement,  and  having  sate  out  the 
Orphan  the  Day  before,  in  a  Conversation  with 
some  of  the  principal  Actors  enquir'd  what  new 
young  Fellow  that  was  whom  he  had  seen  in  the 
Chaplain  ?  Upon  which  Monfort  reply'd,  That's  he, 
behind  you.  Goodman  then  turning  about,  look'd 
earnestly  at  me,  and,  after  some  Pause,  clapping  me 
on  the  Shoulder,  rejoin'd.  If  he  does  not  make  a  good 
Actor,  ril  be  d — 'd!  The  Surprize  of  being  com- 
mended by  one  who  had  been  himself  so  eminent  on 
the  Stage,  and  in  so  positive  a  manner,  was  more 
than  I  could  support ;  in  a  Word,  it  almost  took  away 
my  Breath,  and  (laugh,  if  you  please)  fairly  drew 
Tears  from  my  Eyes !  And,  tho'  it  may  be  as  ridicu- 
lous as  incredible  to  tell  you  what  a  full  Vanity  and 

^  Bellchambers  notes  that  this  part  was  originally  played  by 
Percival,  who  came  into  the  Duke's  Company  about  1673. 

184  THE    LIFE    OF 

Content  at  that  time  possess'd  me,  I  will  still  make 
it  a  Question  whether  Alexander  himself,  or  Charles 
the  Twelfth  of  Sweden^  when  at  the  Head  of  their 
first  victorious  Armies,  could  feel  a  greater  Trans- 
port in  their  Bosoms  than  I  did  then  in  mine,  when 
but  in  the  Rear  of  this  Troop  of  Comedians.  You 
see  to  what  low  Particulars  I  am  forc'd  to  descend 
to  give  you  a  true  Resemblance  of  the  early  and 
lively  Follies  of  my  Mind.  Let  me  give  you  another 
Instance  of  my  Discretion,  more  desperate  than  that 
of  preferring  the  Stage  to  any  other  Views  of  Life. 
One  might  think  that  the  Madness  of  breaking  from 
the  Advice  and  Care  of  Parents  to  turn  Player  could 
not  easily  be  exceeded  :  But  what  think  you,  Sir, 

of Matrimony  ?  which,  before  I   was  Two-and- 

twenty,  I  actually  committed,'  when  I  had  but 
Twenty  Pounds  a  Year,  which  my  Father  had  as- 
sur'd  to  me,  and  Twenty  Shillings  a  Week  from  my 
Theatrical  Labours,  to  maintain,  as  I  then  thought, 
the  happiest  young  Couple  that  ever  took  a  Leap  in 
the  Dark !     If  after  this,  to  complete  my  Fortune,  I 

^  Of  Gibber's  wife  there  is  little  record.  In  1695  the  name  of 
"Mrs.  Cibbars"  appears  to  the  part  of  Galatea  in  "  Philaster," 
and  she  was  the  original  Hillaria  in  Gibber's  "  Love's  Last  Shift " 
in  1696;  but  she  never  made  any  great  name  or  played  any 
famous  part.  She  was  a  Miss  Shore,  sister  of  John  Shore,  "Ser- 
geant-trumpet "  of  England.  The  "  Biographia  Dramatica " 
(i.  117)  says  that  Miss  Shore's  father  was  extremely  angry  at  her 
marriage,  and  spent  that  portion  of  his  fortune  which  he  had  in- 
tended for  her  in  building  a  retreat  on  the  Thames  which  was 
called  Shore's  Folly. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 85 

turii'd  Poet  too,  this  last  Folly  indeed  had  something 
a  better  Excuse — Necessity  :  Had  it  never  been  my 
Lot  to  have  come  on  the  Stage,  'tis  probable  I  might 
never  have  been  inclin'd  or  reduc'd  to  have  wrote  for 
it :  But  having  once  expos'd  my  Person  there,  I 
thought  it  could  be  no  additional  Dishonour  to  let 
my  Parts,  whatever  they  were,  take  their  Fortune 
along  with  it. — But  to  return  to  the  Progress  I  made 
as  an  Actor. 

Queen  Mary  having  commanded  the  Dotible 
Dealer  to  be  acted,  Kynaston  happen'd  to  be  so  ill 
that  he  could  not  hope  to  be  able  next  Day  to  per- 
form his  Part  of  the  Lord  Touchwood.  In  this 
Exigence,  the  Author,  Mr.  Congrcve,  advis'd  that  it 
might  be  given  to  me,  if  at  so  short  a  Warning  I 
would  undertake  it.'  The  Flattery  of  being  thus 
distinguish'd  by  so  celebrated  an  Author,  and  the 
Honour  to  act  before  a  Queen,  you  may  be  sure 
made  me  blind  to  whatever  Difficulties  might  attend 
it.  I  accepted  the  Part,  and  was  ready  in  it  before  I 
slept ;  next  Day  the  Queen  was  present  at  the  Play, 
and  was  receiv'd  with  a  new  Prologue  from  the 
Author,  spoken  by  Mrs.  Barry,  humbly  acknow- 
ledging the  great  Honour  done  to  the  Stage,  and  to 
his  Play  in  particular  :  Two  Lines  of  it,  which  tho'  I 
have  not  since  read,  I  still  remember. 

Btct  never  were  in  Rome  nor  Athens  seen^ 
So  fair  a  Circle,  or  so  bright  a  Queen. 

*  "The  Double  Dealer,"  1693,  was  not  very  successful,  and 

1 86  THE    LIFE    OF 

After  the  Play,  Mr.  Cojigrcve  made  me  the  Com- 
pliment of  saying,  That  I  had  not  only  answer'd, 
but  had  exceeded  his  Expectations,  and  that  he 
would    shew     me   he   was    sincere   by   his    saying 

more  of  me  to  the   Masters. He  was   as   good 

as  his  Word,  and  the  next  Pay-day  I  found  my 
Sallary  of  fifteen  was  then  advanc'd  to  twenty 
Shillings  a  Week.  But  alas  !  this  favourable  Opi- 
nion of  Mr.  Congreve  made  no  farther  Impression 
upon  the  Judgment  of  my  good  Masters ;  it  only 
serv'd  to  heighten  my  own  Vanity,  but  could  not 
recommend  me  to  any  new  Trials  of  my  Capacity ; 
not  a  Step  farther  could  I  get  'till  the  Company  was 
again  divided,  when  the  Desertion  of  the  best  Actors 
left  a  clear  Stage  for  younger  Champions  to  mount 
and  shew  their  best  Pretensions  to  Favour.  But  it 
is  now  time  to  enter  upon  those  Facts  that  imme- 
diately preceded  this  remarkable  Revolution  of  the 

You  have  seen  how  complete  a  Set  of  Actors 
were  under  the  Government  of  the  united  Patents 
in  1690;  if  their  Gains  were  not  extraordinary,  what 
shall  we  impute  it  to  but  some  extraordinary  ill 
Menagement  .'*  I  was  then  too  young  to  be  in  their 
Secrets,  and  therefore  can  only  observe  upon  what 
I  saw  and  have  since  thought  visibly  wrong. 

when  played  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  i8th  October,  17 18,  was 
announced  as  not  having  been  acted  for  fifteen  years ;  so  that  this 
incident  no  doubt  occurred  in  the  course  of  the  first  few  nights  of 
the  play,  which,  Malone  says,  was  produced  in  November,  1693. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  187 

Though  the  Success  of  the  Prophetess  ^  and  King 
Arthur'^  (two  dramatic  Operas,  in  which  the  Paten- 
tees had  embark'd  all  their  Hopes)  was  In  Appear- 
ance very  great,  yet  their  whole  Receipts  did  not  so 
far  balance  their  Expence  as  to  keep  them  out  of  a 
large  Debt,  which  it  was  publickly  known  was  about 
this  time  contracted,  and  which  found  Work  for  the 
Court  of  Chancery  for  about  twenty  Years  following, 
till  one  side  of  the  Cause  grew  weary.  But  this 
was  not  all  that  was  wrong ;  every  Branch  of  the 
Theatrical  Trade  had  been  sacrific'd  to  the  neces- 
sary fitting  out  those  tall  Ships  of  Burthen  that  were 
to  bring  home  the  Indies.  Plays  of  course  were 
neglected.  Actors  held  cheap,  and  slightly  dress'd, 
while  Singers  and  Dancers  were  better  paid,  and 
embroider'd.  These  Measures,  of  course,  created 
Murmurings  on  one  side,  and  Ill-humour  and  Con- 
tempt on  the  other.  When  it  became  necessary 
therefore  to  lessen  the  Charge,  a    Resolution    was 

'  "The  Prophetess,"  now  supposed  to  be  mostly  Fletcher's 
work  (see  Ward's  "English  Dramatic  Literature,"  ii.  218),  was 
made  into  an  opera  by  Betterton,  the  music  by  Purcell.  It  was 
produced  in  1690,  with  a  Prologue  written  by  Dryden,  which,  for 
political  reasons,  was  forbidden  by  the  Lord  Chamberlain  after 
the  first  night. 

^  "  King  Arthur ;  or,  the  British  Worthy,"  a  Dramatic  Opera, 
as  Dryden  entitles  it,  was  produced  in  169 1.  In  his  Dedication 
to  the  Marquis  of  Halifax,  Dryden  says:  "This  Poem  was  the  last 
Piece  of  Service,  which  I  had  the  Honour  to  do,  for  my  Gracious 
Master,  King  Charles  the  Second."  Downes  says  "  'twas  very 
Gainful  to  the  Company,"  but  Gibber  declares  it  was  not  so 
successful  as  it  appeared  to  be. 

1 88  THE    LIFE    OF 

taken  to  begin  with  the  Sallaries  of  the  Actors  ;  and 
what  seem'd  to  make  this  Resolution  more  necessary 
at  this  time  was  the  Loss  of  Nokes,  Monfort,  and 
Leigh,  who  all  dy'd  about  the  same  Year  :  ^  No  won- 
der then,  if  when  these  great  Pillars  were  at  once  re- 
mov'd,  the  Building  grew  weaker  and  the  Audiences 
very   much   abated.     Now   in   this    Distress,  what 
more  natural  Remedy  could  be  found  than  to  incite 
and  encourage  (tho'  with  some  Hazard)  the  Industry 
of  the  surviving  Actors  ?     But    the    Patentees,    it 
seems,  thought  the   surer  way  was  to  bring  down 
their  Pay  in  proportion  to  the  Fall  of  their  Audi- 
ences.      To  make  this  Project  more  feasible  they 
propos'd  to  begin  at  the  Head  of 'em,  rightly  judging 
that  if  the  Principals  acquiesc'd,  their  Inferiors  would 
murmur  in  vain.     To  bring  this  about  with  a  better 
Grace,   they,  under   Pretence   of  bringing  younger 
Actors  forward,  order'd  several  of   Bettertofis  and 
Mrs.  Barry  ^  chief  Parts  to  be  given  to  young  Powel 
and  Mrs.  Bracegirdle.     In  this  they  committed  two 
palpable   Errors ;  for  while  the  best  Actors  are  in 
Health,  and  still  on  the  Stage,  the  Publick  is  always 
apt  to  be  out  of  Humour  when  those  of  a  lower 
Class  pretend  to  stand  in  their  Places ;  or  admitting 
at  this  time  they  might  have  been    accepted,  this 
Project  might  very  probably  have  lessen'd,  but  could 
not   possibly  mend    an  Audience,  and  was   a  sure 
Loss  of  that  Time,  in  studying,  which  might  have 

'  End  of  1692. 

M"5    QRACEGIRDLE    AS       THE       INDIAN     QUEEN' 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 89 

been  better  employ'd  in  giving  the  Auditor  Variety, 
the  only  Temptation  to  a  pall'd  Appetite ;  and 
Variety  is  only  to  be  given  by  Industry  :  But 
Industry  will  always  be  lame  when  the  Actor  has 
Reason  to  be  discontented.  This  the  Patentees  did 
not  consider,  or  pretended  not  to  value,  while  they 
thought  their  Power  secure  and  uncontroulable  : 
But  farther  their  first  Project  did  not  succeed  ;  for 
tho*  the  giddy  Head  of  Pozvel  accepted  the  Parts  of 
Betterton,  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  had  a  different  way  of 
thinking,  and  desir'd  to  be  excus'd  from  those  of 
Mrs.  Barry;  her  good  Sense  was  not  to  be  misled 
by  the  insidious  Favour  of  the  Patentees ;  she  knew 
the  Stao;e  was  wide  enough  for  her  Success,  without 
entring  into  any  such  rash  and  invidious  Competi- 
tion with  Mrs.  Barry,  and  therefore  wholly  refus'd 
acting  any  Part  that  properly  belong'd  to  her.  But 
this  Proceeding,  however,  was  Warning  enough  to 
make  Betterto7t  be  upon  his  Guard,  and  to  alarm 
others  with  Apprehensions  of  their  own  Safety,  from 
the  Design  that  was  laid  against  him  :  Bctterioii 
upon  this  drew  into  his  Party  most  of  the  valuable 
Actors,  who,  to  secure  their  Unity,  enter'd  with  him 
into  a  sort  of  Association  to  stand  or  fall  together.^ 
All  this  the  Patentees  for  some  time  slighted  ;  but 
when  Matters  drew  towards  a  Crisis,  they  found  it 

'  Betterton  seems  to  have  been  a  very  politic  person.  In  the 
"Comparison  between  the  two  Stages"  (p.  41)  he  is  called, 
though  not  in  reference  to  this  particular  matter,  "  a  cunning  old 


igO  THE    LIFE   OF 

adviseable  to  take  the  same  Measures,  and  accord- 
ingly open'd  an  Association  on  their  part;  both 
which  were  severally  sign'd,  as  the  Interest  or  Incli- 
nation of  either  Side  led  them. 

During  these  Contentions  which  the  impolitick 
Patentees  had  rais'd  against  themselves  (not  only  by 
this  I  have  mentioned,  but  by  many  other  Grievances 
which  my  Memory  retains  not)  the  Actors  offer'd  a 
Treaty  of  Peace ;  but  their  Masters  imagining  no 
Consequence  could  shake  the  Right  of  their  Autho- 
rity, refus'd  all  Terms  of  Accommodation.  In  the 
mean  time  this  Dissention  was  so  prejudicial  to  their 
daily  Affairs,  that  I  remember  it  was  allow'd  by 
both  Parties  that  before  Christmas  the  Patent  had 
lost  the  getting  of  at  least  a  thousand  Pounds 
by  it. 

My  having  been  a  Witness  of  this  unnecessary 
Rupture  was  of  great  use  to  me  when,  many  Years 
after,  I  came  to  be  a  Menager  my  self  I  laid  it 
down  as  a  settled  Maxim,  that  no  Company  could 
flourish  while  the  chief  Actors  and  the  Undertakers 
were  at  variance.  I  therefore  made  it  a  Point,  while 
it  was  possible  upon  tolerable  Terms,  to  keep  the 
valuable  Actors  in  humour  with  their  Station  ;  and 
tho'  I  was  as  jealous  of  their  Encroachments  as 
any  of  my  Co-partners  could  be,  I  always  guarded 
against  the  least  Warmth  in  my  Expostulations  with 
them ;  not  but  at  the  same  time  they  might  see  I 
was  perhaps  more  determin'd  in  the  Question  than 
those  that  gave  a  loose  to  their  Resentment,   and 


when  they  were  cool  were  as  apt  to  recede.'  I  do 
not  remember  that  ever  I  made  a  Promise  to  any 
that  I  did  not  keep,  and  therefore  was  cautious  how 
I  made  them.  This  Coldness,  tho'  it  might  not 
please,  at  least  left  them  nothing  to  reproach  me 
with  ;  and  if  Temper  and  fair  Words  could  prevent 
a  Disobligation,  I  was  sure  never  to  give  Offence  or 
receive  it.^  But  as  I  was  but  one  of  three,  I  could 
not  oblige  others  to  observe  the  same  Conduct. 
However,  by  this  means  I  kept  many  an  unreason- 
able Discontent  from  breaking  out,  and  both  Sides 
found  their  Account  in  it. 

How  a  contemptuous  and  overbearing  manner  of 
treating  Actors  had  like  to  have  ruin'd  us  in  our 
early  Prosperity  shall  be  shewn  in  its  Place.^  If 
future  Menagers  should  chance  to  think  my  way 
right,  I  suppose  they  will  follow  it ;  if  not,  when 
they  find  what  happen'd  to  the  Patentees  (who 
chose  to  disagree  with  their  People)  perhaps  they 
may  think  better  of  it. 

The  Patentees  then,  who  by  their  united  Powers 

This  is  no  doubt  a  hit  at  Wilks,  whose  temper  was  extremely 

^  "The  Laureat,"  p.  39:  "He  (Gibber)  was  always  against 
raising,  or  rewarding,  or  by  any  means  encouraging  Merit  of  any 
kind."  He  had  "many  Disputes  with  WiVks  on  this  Account, 
who  was  impatient,  when  Justice  required  it,  to  reward  the  Meri- 

^  This  is  a  reference  to  the  secession  of  seven  or  eight  actors  in 
1 7 14,  caused,  according  to  Gibber,  by  Wilks's  overbearing  temper. 
See  Ghapter  XV. 

192  THE    LIFE    OF 

had    made   a    Monopoly  of  the  Stage,   and   conse- 
quently presum'd  they  might   impose  what  Condi- 
tions they  pleased  upon  their  People,  did  not  con- 
sider that  they  were  all  this  while  endeavouring  to 
enslave  a  Set  of  Actors  whom  the   Publick    (more 
arbitrary  than  themselves)  were  inclined  to  support ; 
nor  did   they    reflect   that   the   Spectator  naturally 
wish'd  that  the  Actor  who  gave  him  Delight  might 
enjoy  the  Profits  arising  from  his  Labour,  without 
regard   of  what   pretended    Damage     or    Injustice 
might  fall  upon  his  Owners,  whose  personal  Merit 
the  Publick  was  not  so  well  acquainted  with.     From 
this   Consideration,    then,    several    Persons   of    the 
highest  Distinction  espous'd  their  Cause,  and  some- 
times in   the  Circle  entertain'd  the  King  with  the 
State  of  the  Theatre.     At  length  their  Grievances 
were   laid   before  the    Earl  of  Dorset,   then    Lord 
Chamberlain,  who  took  the  most  effectual  Method 
for  their   Relief.^     The  Learned  of  the   Law  were 

'  Downes  and  Davies  give  the  following  accounts  of  the  trans- 
action : — 

"  Some  time  after,  a  difference  happening  between  the  United 
Patentees,  and  the  chief  Actors :  As  Mr,  Betterton  ;  Mrs.  Barry 
and  Mrs.  Bracegirdle;  the  latter  complaining  of  Oppression  from 
the  former;  they  for  Redress,  Appeal'd  to  my  Lord  oi Dorset, 
then  Lord  Chamberlain,  for  Justice;  who  Espousing  the  Cause  of 
the  Actors,  with  the  assistance  of  Sir  Robert  Howard,  finding  their 
Complaints  just,  procur'd  from  King  William,  a  Seperate  License 
for  Mr.  Congreve,  Mr.  Betterton,  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  and  ]\Irs.  Barry, 
and  others,  to  set  up  a  new  Company,  calling  it  the  New  Theatre 
in  Lineal  lis- 1  nil- FieldsT — "Roscius  Anglicanus,"  p.  43. 

"  The  nobility,  and  all  persons  of  eminence,  favoured  the  cause 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  1 93 

advised  with,  and  they  gave  their  Opinion  that  no 
Patent  for  acting  Plays,  &c.  could  tie  up  the  Hands 
of  a  succeeding  Prince  from  granting  the  like  Autho- 
rity where  it  might  be  thought  proper  to  trust  it. 
But  while  this  Affair  was  in  Agitation,  Queen  Mary 
dy'd,^  which  of  course  occasion'd  a  Cessation  of  all 
publick  Diversions.  In  this  melancholy  Interim, 
Bettei'ton  and  his  Adherents  had  more  Leisure  to 
sollicit  their  Redress  ;  and  the  Patentees  now  find- 
ing that  the  Party  against  them  was  gathering 
Strength,  were  reduced  to  make  sure  of  as  good  a 
Company  as  the  Leavings  of  Bettertons  Interest 
could  form  ;  and  these,  you  may  be  sure,  would  not 
lose  this  Occasion  of  setting  a  Price  upon  their 
Merit  equal  to  their  own  Opinion  of  it,  which  was 
but  just  double  to  what  they  had  before.  Powel 
and  Verbruggen,  who  had  then  but  forty  Shillings  a 
Week,  were  now  raised  each  of  them  to  four  Pounds, 
and  others  in  Proportion  :  As  for  my  self,  I  was  then 
too  insignificant  to  be  taken  into  their  Councils,  and 
consequently  stood  among  those  of  little  Importance, 
like  Cattle  in  a  Market,  to  be  sold  to  the  first  Bidder. 
But  the  Patentees  seeming  in  the  greater  Distress 
for  Actors,  condescended  to  purchase  me.     Thus, 

of  the  comedians ;  the  generous  Dorset  introduced  Betterton, 
Mrs.  Barry,  Mrs.  Bracegirdle,  and  others,  to  the  King,  who  granted 
them  an  audience.  .  .  .  William,  who  had  freed  all  the 
subjects  of  England  from  slavery,  except  the  inhabitants  of  the 
mimical  world,  rescued  them  also  from  the  insolence  and  tyranny 
of  their  oppressors." — "  Dram.  Miscellanies,"  iii.  419. 
^  28th  December,  1694. 

194  THE    LIFE    OF 

without  any  farther  Merit  than  that  of  being  a  scarce 
Commodity,  I  was  advanc'd  to  thirty  ShilHngs  a 
Week  :  Yet  our  Company  was  so  far  from  being 
full,^  that  our  Commanders  were  forced  to  beat  up 
for  Volunteers  in  several  distant  Counties ;  it  was 
this  Occasion  that  first  brought  Johnson  ^  and  Bul- 
lock ^  to  the  Service  of  the  Theatre- Royal. 

Forces  being  thus  raised,  and  the  War  declared 
on  both  Sides,  Betterton  and  his  Chiefs  had  the 
Honour  of  an  Audience  of  the  King,  who  consider'd 
them  as  the  only  Subjects  whom  he  had  not  yet 
deliver'd  from  arbitrary  Power,  and  graciously  dis- 
miss'd  them  with  an  Assurance  of  Relief  and  Sup- 
port— Accordingly  a  select  number  of  them  were 
impower'd  by  his  Royal  Licence  *  to  act  in  a  separate 
Theatre  for  themselves.  This  great  Point  being 
obtain'd,  many  People  of  Quality  came  into  a  volun- 
tary Subscription  of  twenty,  and  some  of  forty  Guineas 
a-piece,  for  erecting  a  Theatre  within  the  Walls  of 
the  Tennis-Court  in  Lincoln  s- Inn- Fields.^     But   as 

*  The  "Comparison  between  the  two  Stages"  says  (p.  7): 
"  'twas  almost  impossible  in  Drury-Lane,  to  muster  up  a  sufficient 
number  to  take  in  all  the  Parts  of  any  Play." 

^  See  memoir  of  Johnson  at  end  of  second  volume. 
'  See  memoir  of  Bullock  at  end  of  second  volume. 

*  I  do  not  think  that  the  date  of  this  Licence  has  ever  been 
stated.     It  was  25th  March,  1695. 

'  "  Comparison  between  the  two  Stages,"  p.  12:  "  We  know 
what  importuning  and  dunning  the  Noblemen  there  was,  what 
flattering,  and  what  promising  there  was,  till  at  length,  the  in- 
couragement  they  received  by  liberal  Contributions  set  'em  in  a 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 95 

it  required  Time  to  fit  it  up,  it  gave  the  Patentees 
more  Leisure  to  muster  their  Forces,  who  notwith- 
standing were  not  able  to  take  the  Field  till  the 
Easter- Monday  in  April  following.  Their  first  At- 
tempt was  a  reviv'd  Play  call'd  Abdelazar,  or  the 
Moors  Revenge,  poorly  written,  by  Mrs.  Be/in.  The 
House  was  very  full,  but  whether  it  was  the  Play  or 
the  Actors  that  were  not  approved,  the  next  Day's 
Audience  sunk  to  nothing.  However,  we  were 
assured  that  let  the  Audiences  be  never  so  low,  our 
Masters  would  make  good  all  Deficiencies,  and 
so  indeed  they  did,  'till  towards  the  End  of  the 
Season,  when  Dues  to  Ballance  came  too  thick  upon 
'em.  But  that  I  may  go  gradually  on  with  my  own 
Fortune,  I  must  take  this  Occasion  to  let  you  know, 
by  the  following  Circumstance,  how  very  low  my 
Capacity  as  an  Actor  was  then  rated  :  It  was  thought 
necessary  at  our  Opening  that  the  Town  should  be 
address'd  in  a  new  Prologue ;  but  to  our  great  Dis- 
tress, among  several  that  were  offer'd,  not  one  was 
judg'd  fit  to  be  spoken.  This  I  thought  a  favourable 
Occasion  to  do  my  self  some  remarkable  Service,  if 
I  should  have  the  good  Fortune  to  produce  one  that 
might  be  accepted.  The  next  (memorable)  Day  my 
Muse  brought  forth  her  first  Fruit  that  was  ever 
made  publick ;  how  good  or  bad  imports  not ;  my 
Prologue  was  accepted,  and  resolv'd  on  to  be  spoken. 
This   Point  being  gain'd,   I   began   to   stand   upon 

Condition  to  go  on."  This  theatre  was  the  theatre  in  Liiile 
Lincoln's  Inn  Fields.     See  further  details  in  Chap.  XIII. 

196  THE    LIFE    OF 

Terms,  you  will  say,  not  unreasonable ;  which  were, 
that  if  I  might  speak  it  my  self  I  would  expect  no 
farther  Reward  for  my  Labour  :  This  was  judg'd  as 
bad  as  having  no  Prologue  at  all !  You  may  imagine 
how  hard  I  thought  it,  that  they  durst  not  trust  my 
poor  poetical  Brat  to  my  own  Care.  But  since  I 
found  it  was  to  be  given  into  other  Hands,  I  insisted 
that  two  Guineas  should  be  the  Price  of  my  parting 
with  it ;  which  with  a  Sigh  I  received,  and  Pozael  spoke 
the  Prologue :  But  every  Line  that  was  applauded 
went  sorely  to  my  Heart  when  I  reflected  that  the 
same  Praise  might  have  been  given  to  my  own 
speaking  ;  nor  could  the  Success  of  the  Author  com- 
pensate the  Distress  of  the  Actor.  However,  in  the 
End,  it  serv'd  in  some  sort  to  mend  our  People's 
Opinion  of  me;  and  whatever  the  Criticks  might  think 
of  it,  one  of  the  Patentees  ^  (who,  it  is  true,  knew  no 
Difference  between  Dryden  and  Durfey)  said,  upon 
the  Success  of  it,  that  insooth !  I  was  an  ingenious 
young  Man.  This  sober  Compliment  (tho'  I  could 
have  no  Reason  to  be  vain  upon  it)  I  thought 
was  a  fair  Promise  to  my  being  in  favour.  But  to 
Matters  of  more  Moment :  Now  let  us  reconnoitre 
the  Enemy. 

After  we  had  stolen  some  few  Days  March  upon 
them,  the  Forces  of  Betterton  came  up  with  us  in 
terrible  Order  :  In  about  three  Weeks  following,  the 
new  Theatre  was  open'd  against  us  with  a  veteran 
Company  and  a  new  Train  of  Artillery ;  or  in  plainer 
'  No  doubt,  Rich. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 97 

English^  the  old  Actors  in  Lincoln  s-Inn-Fields  be- 
gan with  a  new  Comedy  of  Mr.  Co7igreves,  call'd 
Love  for  Love ;^  which  ran  on  with  such  extra- 
ordinary Success  that  they  had  seldom  occasion  to 
act  any  other  Play  'till  the  End  of  the  Season.  This 
valuable  Play  had  a  narrow  Escape  from  falling 
into  the  Hands  of  the  Patentees  ;  for  before  the 
Division  of  the  Company  it  had  been  read  and 
accepted  of  at  the  Theatre- Royal :  But  while  the 
Articles  of  Agreement  for  it  were  preparing,  the 
Rupture  in  the  Theatrical  State  was  so  far  advanced 
that  the  Author  took  time  to  pause  before  he  sign'd 
them ;  when  finding  that  all  Hopes  of  Accommoda- 
tion were  impracticable,  he  thought  it  advisable  to 
let  it  take  its  Fortune  with  those  Actors  for  whom  he 
had  first  intended  the  Parts. 

Mr.  Congj^eve  vjdiS  then  in  such  high  Reputation  as 
an  Author,  that  besides  his  Profits  from  this  Play, 
they  offered  him  a  whole  Share  with  them,  which  he 
accepted;^  in  Consideration  of  which  he  oblig'd 
himself,  if  his  Health  permitted,  to  give  them  one 
new  Play  every  Year.^     Dry  den,  in  King  Charles  s 

^  Downes  says  (p.  43),  "  the  House  being  fitted  up  from  a 
Tennis-Court,  they  Open'd  it  the  last  Day  oi  April,  1695." 

^  It  will  be  noticed  that  Downes  in  the  passage  quoted  by 
me  (p.  192,  note  i)  mentions  Congreve  as  if  he  had  been  an 
original  sharer  in  the  Licence;  but  the  statement  is  probably 
loosely  made. 

^  Bellchambers  has  here  the  following  notes,  the  entire  substance 
of  which  will  be  found  in  Malone  ("Shakespeare,"  1821,  iii.  170, 
et  seq.) :  "  In  Shakspeare's  time  the  nightly  expenses  for  lights, 
supernumeraries,   etc.,  was  but   forty-five   shillings,   and   having 

198  THE    LIFE    OF 

Time,  had  the  same  Share  with  the  King's  Com- 
pany, but  he  bound  himself  to  give  them  two  Plays 
every  Season.  This  you  may  imagine  he  could  not 
hold  long,  and  I  am  apt  to  think  he  might  have 

deducted  this  charge,  the  clear  emoluments  were  divided  into 
shares,  (supposed  to  be  forty  in  number,)  between  the  proprietors, 
and  principal  actors.  In  the  year  1666,  the  whole  profit  arising 
from  acting  plays,  masques,  etc.,  at  the  King's  theatre,  was 
divided  into  twelve  shares  and  three  quarters,  of  which  Mr,  Kille- 
grew,  the  manager,  had  two  shares  and  three  quarters,  each  share 
computed  to  produce  about  ;^25o,  net,  per  annum.  In  Sir  William 
D'Avenant's  company,  from  the  time  their  new  theatre  was  opened 
in  Portugal-row,  the  total  receipt,  after  deducting  the  nightly 
expenses,  was  divided  into  fifteen  shares,  of  which  it  was  agreed 
that  ten  should  belong  to  D'Avenant,  for  various  purposes,  and 
the  remainder  be  divided  among  the  male  members  of  his  troops 
according  to  their  rank  and  merit.  I  cannot  relate  the  arrange- 
ment adopted  by  Betterton  in  Lincoln's-inn-fields,  but  the  share 
accepted  by  Congreve  was,  doubtless,  presumed  to  be  of  consider- 
able value. 

"Dryden  had  a  share  and  a  quarter  in  the  king's  company,  for 
which  he  bound  himself  to  furnish  not  two,  but  three  plays  every 
season.  The  following  paper,  which,  after  remaining  long  in  the 
Killegrew  family,  came  into  the  hands  of  the  late  Mr.  Reed, 
and  was  published  by  Mr.  Malone  in  his  '  Historical  Account  of 
the  English  Stage,'  incontestably  proves  the  practice  alluded  to. 
The  superscription  is  lost,  but  it  was  probably  addressed  to  the 
lord-chamberlain,  or  the  king,  about  the  year  1678,  'CEdipus,' 
the  ground  of  complaint,  being  printed  in  1679  : 

"  *  Whereas  upon  Mr.  Dryden's  binding  himself  to  write  three 
playes  a  yeere,  hee  the  said  Mr.  Dryden  was  admitted  and  con- 
tinued as  a  sharer  in  the  king's  playhouse  for  diverse  years,  and 
received  for  his  share  and  a  quarter  three  or  four  hundred  pounds, 
communibus  annis ;  but  though  he  received  the  moneys,  we  re- 
ceived not  the  playes,  not  one  in  a  yeare.  After  which,  the  house 
being  burnt,  the  company  in  building  another,  contracted  great 
debts,  so  that  shares  fell  much  short  of  what  they  were  formerly. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  1 99 

serv'd  them  better  with  one  in  a  Year,  not  so  hastily- 
written.  Mr.  Congreve,  whatever  Impediment  he 
met  with,  was  three  Years  before,  in  pursuance  to 
his  Agreement,  he  produced  the  Mourning  Bride ;  ^ 

Thereupon  Mr.  Dryden  complaining  to  the  company  of  his  want 
of  proffit,  the  company  was  so  kind  to  him  that  they  not  only  did 
not  presse  him  for  the  playes  which  he  so  engaged  to  write  for 
them,  and  for  which  he  was  paid  beforehand,  but  they  did  also  at 
his  earnest  request  give  him  a  third  day  for  his  last  new  play  called 
All  for  Love;  and  at  the  receipt  of  the  money  of  the  said  third 
day,  he  acknowledged  it  as  a  guift,  and  a  particular  kindnesse  of 
the  company.  Yet  notwithstanding  this  kind  proceeding,  Mr. 
Dryden  has  now,  jointly  with  Mr.  Lee,  (who  was  in  pension  with 
us  to  the  last  day  of  our  playing,  and  shall  continue,)  written  a 
play  called  Oedipus,  and  given  it  to  the  Duke's  company,  contrary 
to  his  said  agreement,  his  promise,  and  all  gratitude,  to  the  great 
prejudice  and  almost  undoing  of  the  company,  they  being  the 
only  poets  remaining  to  us.  Mr.  Crowne,  being  under  the  like 
agreement  with  the  duke's  house,  writt  a  play  called  The  Destruc- 
tion of  Jerusalem,  and  being  forced  by  their  refusall  of  it,  to  bring 
it  to  us,  the  said  company  compelled  us,  after  the  studying  of  it, 
and  a  vast  expence  in  scenes  and  cloaths,  to  buy  off  their  clayme, 
by  paying  all  the  pension  he  had  received  from  them,  amounting 
to  one  hundred  and  twelve  pounds  paid  by  the  king's  company, 
besides  near  forty  pounds  he  the  said  Mr.  Crowne  paid  out  of  his 
owne  pocket. 

" '  These  things  considered,  if  notwithstanding  Mr.  Dryden's 
said  agreement,  promise,  and  moneys  freely  giving  him  for  his  said 
last  new  play,  and  the  many  titles  we  have  to  his  writings,  this  play 
be  judged  away  from  us,  we  must  submit. 

(Signed)         " '  Charles  Killigrew. 

"  *  Charles  Hart. 

'•'Rich.  Burt. 

" '  Cardell  Goodman. 

«"Mic.  Mohun.'" 
*  The  interval  between  the  two  plays  cannot  have  been  quite 

200  THE    LIFE    OF 

and  if  I  mistake  not,  the  Interval  had  been  much  the 
same  when  he  gave  them  the  Way  of  the  World} 
But  it  came  out  the  stronger  for  the  Time  it  cost 
him,  and  to  their  better  support  when  they  sorely- 
wanted  it :  For  though  they  went  on  with  Success 
for  a  Year  or  two,  and  even  when  their  Affairs  were 
declining  stood  in  much  higher  Estimation  of  the 
Publick  than  their  Opponents ;  yet  in  the  End  both 
Sides  were  great  Sufferers  by  their  Separation ;  the 
natural  Consequence  of  two  Houses,  which  I  have 
already  mention'd  in  a  former  Chapter. 

The  first  Error  this  new  Colony  of  Actors  fell 
into  was  their  inconsiderately  parting  with  Williams 
and  Mrs.  Monfoj^t^  upon  a  too  nice  (not  to  say 
severe)  Punctilio ;  in  not  allowing  them  to  be  equal 
Sharers  with  the  rest ;  which  before  they  had  acted 
one  Play  occasioned  their  Return  to  the  Service  of 
the  Patentees.  As  I  have  call'd  this  an  Error,  I 
ought  to  give  my  Reasons  for  it.  Though  the  In- 
dustry of  Williams  was  not  equal  to  his  Capacity  ; 
for  he  lov'd  his  Bottle  better  than  his  Business  ;  and 
though  Mrs.  Monfort  was  only  excellent  in  Comedy, 
yet  their  Merit  was  too  great  almost  on  any  Scruples 
to  be  added  to  the  Enemy ;  and  at  worst,  they  were 
certainly  much  more  above  those  they  would  have 
ranked  them  with  than  they  could  possibly  be  under 

three  years.  The  first  was  produced  in  April,  1695,  the  second 
some  time  in  1697. 

^  Produced  early  in  1700. 

^  Mrs.  Mountfort  was  now  Mrs.  Verbruggen. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  20I 

those  they  were  not  admitted  to  be  equal  to.  Of  this 
Fact  there  is  a  poetical  Record  in  the  Prologue  to 
Love  for  Love,  where  the  Author,  speaking  of  the 
then  happy  State  of  the  Stage,  observes  that  if,  in 
Paradise,  when  two  only  were  there,  they  both  fell ; 
the  Surprize  was  less,  if  from  so  numerous  a  Body  as 
theirs,  there  had  been  any  Deserters. 

Abate  the  Wonder,  and  the  Fault  forgive. 

If,  in  our  laj^ger  Family,  we  gjHeve 

Oiie  falling  Adam,  and  one  tempted  Eve/ 

These  Lines  alluded  to  the  Revolt  of  the  Persons 
above  mention'd. 

Notwithstanding  the  Acquisition  of  these  two 
Actors,  who  were  of  more  Importance  than  any  of 
those  to  whose  Assistance  they  came,  the  Affairs  of 
the  Patentees  were  still  in  a  very  creeping  Condi- 
tion;^ they  were  now,  too  late,  convinced  of  their 
Error  in  having  provok'd  their  People  to  this  Civil 

^  The  passage  is  : — 

"The  Freedom  man  was  born  to,  you've  restor'd. 
And  to  our  World  such  Plenty  you  afford, 
It  seems,  like  Eden,  fruitful  of  its  own  accord. 
But  since,  in  Paradise,  frail  Flesh  gave  Way, 
And  when  but  two  were  made,  both  went  astray  ; 
Forbear  your  Wonder,  and  the  Fault  forgive. 
If,  in  our  larger  Family,  we  grieve 
One  falling  Adam,  and  one  tempted  Eve." 

^  In  his  Preface  to  "  Woman's  Wit,"  Gibber  says,  "  But  however 
a  Fort  is  in  a  very  poor  Condition,  that  (in  a  Time  of  General  War) 
has  but  a  Handful  of  raw  young  Fellows  to  maintain  it."  He  also 
talks  of  himself  and  his  companions  as  "  an  uncertain  Gompany." 

202  THE    LIFE    OF 

War  of  the  Theatre !  quite  changed  and  dismal  now 
was  the  Prospect  before  them  !  their  Houses  thin, 
and  the  Town  crowding  into  a  new  one !  Actors  at 
double  Sallaries,  and  not  half  the  usual  Audiences  to 
pay  them !  And  all  this  brought  upon  them  by  those 
whom  their  full  Security  had  contemn'd,  and  who 
were  now  in  a  fair  way  of  making  their  Fortunes 
upon  the  ruined  Interest  of  their  Oppressors. 

Here,  tho'  at  this  time  my  Fortune  depended  on 
the  Success  of  the  Patentees,  I  cannot  help  in  regard 
to  Truth  remembring  the  rude  and  riotous  Havock 
we  made  of  all  the  late  dramatic  Honours  of  the 
Theatre !  all  became  at  once  the  Spoil  of  Ignorance 
and  Self-conceit !  Shakespear  was  defac'd  and  tor- 
tured in  every  signal  Character — Hamlet  and  Othello 
lost  in  one  Hour  all  their  good  Sense,  their  Dignity 
and  Fame.  Brutus  and  Cassius  became  noisy  Blus- 
terers, with  bold  unmeaning  Eyes,  mistaken  Senti- 
ments, and  turgid  Elocution  !  Nothing,  sure,  could 
more  painfully  regret^  a  judicious  Spectator  than  to 
see,  at  our  first  setting  out,  with  what  rude  Confidence 
those  Habits  which  actors  of  real  Merit  had  left 
behind  them  were  worn  by  giddy  Pretenders  that  so 
vulgarly  disgraced  them !  Not  young  Lawyers  in 
hir'd  Robes  and  Plumes  at  a  Masquerade  could  be 

^  Bellchambers  has  here  this  note :  *'  Mr.  Gibber's  usage  of  the 
verb  regret  here,  may  be  said  to  confirm  the  censure  of  Fielding, 
who  urged,  in  reviewing  some  other  of  his  inadvertencies,  that  it 
was  'needless  for  a  great  writer  to  understand  his  grammar.'"  See 
note  I  on  page  69. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  20$ 

less  what  they  would  seem,  or  more  aukwardly  per- 
sonate the  Characters  they  belong'd  to.  If,  in  all 
these  Acts  of  wanton  Waste,  these  Insults  upon 
injur'd  Nature,  you  observe  I  have  not  yet  charged 
one  of  them  upon  myself,  it  is  not  from  an  imaginary 
Vanity  that  I  could  have  avoided  them ;  but  that  I 
was  rather  safe,  by  being  too  low  at  that  time  to  be 
admitted  even  to  my  Chance  of  falling  into  the  same 
eminent  Errors :  So  that  as  none  of  those  great 
Parts  ever  fell  to  my  Share,  I  could  not  be  account- 
able for  the  Execution  of  them  :  Nor  indeed  could 
I  get  one  good  Part  of  any  kind  'till  many  Months 
after ;  unless  it  were  of  that  sort  which  no  body  else 
card  for,  or  would  venture  to  expose  themselves  in.^ 
The  first  unintended  Favour,  therefore,  of  a  Part  of 
any  Value,  Necessity  threw  upon  me  on  the  follow- 
inof  Occasion. 

As  it  has  been  always  judg'd  their  natural  Interest, 
where  there  are  two  Theatres,  to  do  one  another  as 

^  Genest  (ii.  65)  has  the  following  criticism  of  Gibber's  state- 
ment :  "  There  can  be  no  doubt  but  that  the  acting  at  the 
Theatre  Royal  was  miserably  inferiour  to  what  it  had  been — but 
perhaps  Gibber's  account  is  a  little  exaggerated — he  had  evidently 
a  personal  dislike  to  Powell — everything  therefore  that  he  says, 
directly  or  indirectly,  against  him  must  be  received  with  some 
grains  of  allowance — Powell  seems  to  have  been  eager  to  exhibit 
himself  in  some  of  Betterton's  best  parts,  whereas  a  more  diffident 
actor  would  have  wished  to  avoid  comparisons — we  know  from 
the  Spectator  that  Powell  was  too  apt  to  tear  a  passion  to 
tatters,  but  still  he  must  have  been  an  actor  of  considerable  repu- 
tation at  this  time,  or  he  would  not  have  been  cast  for  several  good 
parts  before  the  division  of  the  Gompany." 

204  THE    LIFE    OF 

much  Mischief  as  they  can,  you  may  imagine  it  could 
not  be  long  before  this  hostile  Policy  shew'd  itself  in 
Action.  It  happen'd,  upon  our  having  Information 
on  a  Sahtrday  Morning  that  the  Tuesday  after 
Hamlet  was  intended  to  be  acted  at  the  other  House, 
where  it  had  not  yet  been  seen,  our  merry  menaging 
Actors,  (for  they  were  now  in  a  manner  left  to  govern 
themselves)  resolv'd  at  any  rate  to  steal  a  March 
upon  the  Enemy,  and  take  Possession  of  the  same 
Play  the  Day  before  them :  Accordingly,  Hamlet 
was  given  out  that  Night  to  be  Acted  with  us  on 
Monday.  The  Notice  of  this  sudden  Enterprize  soon 
reach'd  the  other  House,  who  in  my  Opinion  too 
much  regarded  it;  for  they  shorten'd  their  first 
Orders,  and  resolv'd  that  Hamlet  should  to  Hamlet 
be  opposed  on  the  same  Day ;  whereas,  had  they 
given  notice  in  their  Bills  that  the  same  Play 
would  have  been  acted  by  them  the  Day  after,  the 
Town  would  have  been  in  no  Doubt  which  House 
they  should  have  reserved  themselves  for ;  ours 
must  certainly  have  been  empty,  and  theirs,  with 
more  Honour,  have  been  crowded :  Experience, 
many  Years  after,  in  like  Cases,  has  convinced  me 
that  this  would  have  been  the  more  laudable  Con- 
duct. But  be  that  as  It  may  ;  when  In  their  Mondays 
Bills  It  was  seen  that  Hamlet  was  up  against  us,  our 
Consternation  was  terrible,  to  find  that  so  hopeful  a 
Project  was  frustrated.  In  this  Distress,  Powel,  who 
was  our  commanding  Officer,  a:id  whose  enterprising 
Head  wanted  nothing  but  Skill  to  carry  him  through 


MR.    COLLEY    CIBBfiR.  205 

the  most  desperate  Attempts ;  for,  like  others  of  his 
Cast,  he  had  murder'd  many  a  Hero  only  to  get  into 
his  Cloaths.  This  Powel,  I  say,  immediately  called 
a  Council  of  War,  where  the  Question  was.  Whether 
he  should  fairly  face  the  Enemy,  or  make  a  Retreat 
to  some  other  Play  of  more  probable  Safety  ?  It 
was  soon  resolved  that  to  act  Hamlet  against  Hamlet 
would  be  certainly  throwing  away  the  Play,  and 
disofracine  themselves  to  little  or  no  Audience ; 
to  conclude,  Powel,  who  was  vain  enough  to  envy 
Betterton  as  his  Rival,  proposed  to  change  Plays 
with  them,  and  that  as  they  had  given  out  the  Old 
BatcheloVy  and  had  chang'd  it  for  Hamlet  against  us, 
we  should  give  up  our  Hamlet  and  turn  the  Old 
Batche lor  Villon  them.  This  Motion  was  agreed  to, 
Nemine  contradicente ;  but  upon  Enquiry,  it  was 
found  that  there  were  not  two  Persons  among 
them  who  had  ever  acted  in  that  Play  :  But  that 
Objection,  it  seems,  (though  all  the  Parts  were  to  be 
study'd  in  six  Hours)  was  soon  got  over ;  Powel  had 
an  Equivalent,  in  petto,  that  would  ballance  any 
Deficiency  on  that  Score,  which  was,  that  he  would 
play  the  Old  Batchelor  himself,  and  mimick  Betterton 
throughout  the  whole  Part.  This  happy  Thought 
was  approv'd  with  Delight  and  Applause,  as  what- 
ever can  be  suppos'd  to  ridicule  Merit  generally 
gives  joy  to  those  that  want  it :  Accordingly  the 
Bills  were  chang'd,  and  at  the  Bottom  inserted. 
The  Part  of  the  Old  Batchelor  to  be  perfornid 
in  Imitation  of  the  Original. 

206  THE    LIFE    OF 

Printed  Books  of  the  Play  were  sent  for  in  haste,  and 
every  Actor  had  one  to  pick  out  of  it  the  Part  he  had 
chosen  :  Thus,  while  they  were  each  of  them  chew- 
ing the  Morsel  they  had  most  mind  to,  some  one 
happening  to  cast  his  Eye  over  th&  Dramatis  Personc^y 
found  that  the  main  Matter  was  still  forgot,  that  no 
body  had  yet  been  thought  of  for  the  Part  of  Alder- 
man Fondlewife.  Here  we  were  all  aground  agen  ! 
nor  was  it  to  be  conceiv'd  who  could  make  the  least 
tolerable  Shift  with  it.  This  Character  had  been  so 
admirably  acted  by  Dogget,  that  though  it  is  only 
seen  in  the  Fourth  Act,  it  may  be  no  Dispraise  to 
the  Play  to  say  it  probably  ow'd  the  greatest  Part  of 
its  Success  to  his  Performance.  But,  as  the  Case 
was  now  desperate,  any  Resource  was  better  than 
none.  Somebody  must  swallow  the  bitter  Pill,  or 
the  Play  must  die.  At  last  it  was  recollected  that  I 
had  been  heard  to  say  in  my  wild  way  of  talking, 
what  a  vast  mind  I  had  to  play  Nykin,  by  which 
Name  the  Character  was  more  frequently  call'd.^ 
Notwithstanding  they  were  thus  distress'd  about  the 
Disposal  of  this  Part,  most  of  them  shook  their  Heads 
at  my  being  mention'd  for  it ;  yet  Powel,  who  was 
resolv'd  at  all  Hazards  to  fall  upon  Betterton,  and 

'  "  Old  Bachelor,"  act  iv.  sc.  4  : — 

"  Fondlewife.  Come  kiss  Nykin  once  more,  and  then  get  you  in 
— So — Get  you  in,  get  you  in.     By  by. 
Lcetitia.  By,  Nykm. 
Fondletvife.  By,  Cocky. 
L(ztitia.  By,  Nykin. 
Fondlewife.  By,  Cocky,  by,  by." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  20/ 

having  no  concern  for  what  might  become  of  any  one 
that  serv'd  his  Ends  or  Purpose,  order'd  me  to  be 
sent  for ;  and,  as  he  naturally  lov'd  to  set  other 
People  wrong,  honestly  said  before  I  came,  If  the 
Fool  has  a  mind  to  blow  hhnself  tip  at  once,  let  us  evn 
give  him  a  clear  Stage  for  it.  Accordingly  the  Part 
was  put  into  my  Hands  between  Eleven  and  Twelve 
that  Morning,  which  I  durst  not  refuse,  because 
others  were  as  much  straitned  in  time  for  Study  as 
myself.  But  I  had  this  casual  Advantage  of  most 
of  them  ;  that  having  so  constantly  observ'd  Dogget's 
Performance,  I  wanted  but  little  Trouble  to  make  me 
perfect  in  the  Words ;  so  that  when  it  came  to  my 
turn  to  rehearse,  while  others  read  their  Parts  from 
their  Books,  I  had  put  mine  in  my  Pocket,  and  went 
thro'  the  first  Scene  without  it ;  and  though  I  was 
more  abash'd  to  rehearse  so  remarkable  a  Part  be- 
fore the  Actors  (which  is  natural  to  most  young 
People)  than  to  act  before  an  Audience,  yet  some  of 
the  better-natur'd  encouraged  me  so  far  as  to  say 
they  did  not  think  I  should  make  an  ill  Figure  in  it  : 
To  conclude,  the  Curiosity  to  see  Betterton  mimick'd 
drew  us  a  pretty  good  Audience,  and  Powel  (as  far 
as  Applause  is  a  Proof  of  it)  was  allow'd  to  have 
burlesqu'd   him  very   well.^     As   I  have  question'd 

^  Regarding  Powell's  playing  in  imitation  of  Betterton,  Chet- 
wood  ("  History  of  the  Stage,"  p.  155)  says  :  "  Mr.  George  Powel,  a 
reputable  Actor,  with  many  Excellencies,  gave  out,  that  he  would 
perform  the  part  oi^\rJohn  Falstaff'm.  the  manner  of  that  very 
excellent  English  Roscius,  Mr.  Betterton.  He  certainly  hit  his 
Manner,  and  Tone  of  Voice,  yet  to  make  the  Picture  more  like, 

208  THE    LIFE    OF 

the  certain  Value  of  Applause,  I  hope  I  may  venture 
with  less  Vanity  to  say  how  particular  a  Share  I  had 
of  it  in  the  same  Play.  At  my  first  Appearance 
one  might  have  imagin'd  by  the  various  Murmurs 
of  the  Audience,  that  they  were  in  doubt  whether 
Dogget  himself  were  not  return'd,  or  that  they  could 
not  conceive  what  strange  Face  it  could  be  that  so 
nearly  resembled  him ;  for  I  had  laid  the  Tint  of 
forty  Years  more  than  my  real  Age  upon  my  Fea- 
tures, and,  to  the  most  minute  placing  of  an  Hair, 
was  dressed  exactly  like  him :  When  I  spoke,  the 
Surprize  was  still  greater,  as  if  I  had  not  only  bor- 
row'd  his  Cloaths,  but  his  Voice  too.  But  tho'  that 
was  the  least  difficult  Part  of  him  to  be  imitated, 
they  seem'd  to  allow  I  had  so  much  of  him  in  every 
other  Requisite,  that  my  Applause  was,  perhaps,  more 
than  proportionable :  For,  whether  I  had  done  so 
much  where  so  little  was  expected,  or  that  the 
Generosity  of  my  Hearers  were  more  than  usually 
zealous  upon  so  unexpected  an  Occasion,  or  from 
what  other  Motive  such  Favour  might  be  pour'd 
upon  me,  I  cannot  say ;  but  in  plain  and  honest 
Truth,  upon  my  going  off  from  the  first  Scene,  a  much 
better  Actor  might  have  been  proud  of  the  Applause 
that  followed  me  ;  after  one  loud  Plaudit  was  ended 
and  sunk  into  a  general  Whisper  that  seem'd  still  to 
continue  their  private  Approbation,  it  reviv'd  to  a 
second,  and  again  to  a  third,  still  louder  than   the 

he  mimic'd  the  Infirmities  of  Distemper,  old  Age,  and  the  aliflict- 
ing  Pains  of  the  Gout,  which  that  great  Man  was  often  seiz'd  with." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  209 

former.  If  to  all  this  I  add,  that  Dogget  himself  was 
in  the  Pit  at  the  same  time,  it  would  be  too  rank 
Affectation  if  I  should  not  confess  that  to  see  him 
there  a  Witness  of  my  Reception,  was  to  me  as 
consummate  a  Triumph  as  the  Heart  of  Vanity- 
could  be  indulg'd  with.  But  whatever  Vanity  I 
might  set  upon  my  self  from  this  unexpected  Success, 
I  found  that  was  no  Rule  to  other  People's  Judg- 
ment of  me.  There  were  few  or  no  Parts  of  the 
same  kind  to  be  had  ;  nor  could  they  conceive,  from 
what  I  had  done  in  this,  what  other  sort  of  Cha- 
racters I  could  be  fit  for.  If  I  sollicited  for  any 
thing  of  a  different  Nature,  I  was  answered.  That 
was  not  in  my  Way.  And  what  was  in  my  Way  it 
seems  was  not  as  yet  resolv'd  upon.  And  though  I 
reply'd.  That  I  thottght  any  thing  naturally  written 
ought  to  be  ill  every  ones  Way  that  pretended  to  be  an 
Actor  ;  this  was  looked  upon  as  a  vain,  impracticable 
Conceit  of  my  own.  Yet  it  is  a  Conceit  that,  in  forty 
Years  farther  Experience,  I  have  not  yet  given  up  ; 
I  still  think  that  a  Painter  who  can  draw  but  one  sort 
of  Object,  or  an  Actor  that  shines  but  in  one  Light, 
can  neither  of  them  boast  of  that  ample  Genius  which 
is  necessary  to  form  a  thorough  Master  of  his  Art : 
For  tho'  Genius  may  have  a  particular  Inclination, 
yet  a  good  History- Painter,  or  a  good  Actor,  will, 
without  being  at  a  loss,  give  you  upon  Demand  a 
proper  Likeness  of  whatever  nature  produces.  If 
he  cannot  do  this,  he  is  only  an  Actor  as  the  Shoe- 
maker was  allow'd  a  limited  Judge  of  y4/^//(?/s  Paint- 

2IO  THE    LIFE    OF 

ing,  but  not  beyond  his  Last.  Now,  tho'  to  do  any 
one  thing  well  may  have  more  Merit  than  we  often 
meet  with,  and  may  be  enough  to  procure  a  Man 
the  Name  of  a  good  Actor  from  the  Publick; 
yet,  in  my  Opinion,  it  is  but  still  the  Name  with- 
out the  Substance.  If  his  Talent  is  in  such  narrow 
Bounds  that  he  dares  not  step  out  of  them  to  look 
upon  the  Singularities  of  Mankind,  and  cannot 
catch  them  in  whatever  Form  they  present  them- 
selves ;  if  he  is  not  Master  of  the  Quicquid  agtmt 
homines}  &c.  in  any  Shape  Human  Nature  is  fit 
to  be  seen  in ;  if  he  cannot  change  himself  into 
several  distinct  Persons,  so  as  to  vary  his  whole 
Tone  of  Voice,  his  Motion,  his  Look  and  Gesture, 
whether  in  high  or  lower  Life,  and,  at  the  same  time, 
keep  close  to  those  Variations  without  leaving  the 
Character  they  singly  belong  to ;  if  his  best  Skill 
falls  short  of  this  Capacity,  what  Pretence  have  we  to 
call  him  a  complete  Master  of  his  Art  ?  And  tho'  I 
do  not  insist  that  he  ought  always  to  shew  himself  in 
these  various  Lights,  yet,  before  we  compliment  him 
with  that  Title,  he  ought  at  least,  by  some  few 
Proofs,  to  let  us  see  that  he  has  them  all  in  his 
Power.  If  I  am  ask'd,  who,  ever,  arriv'd  at  this 
imaginary  Excellence,  I  confess  the  Instances  are 
very  few ;  but  I  will  venture  to  name  Monfoj't  as 
one   of  them,  whose  Theatrical   Character  I    have 

'     "  Quicquid  agunt  homines,  votum,  timor,  ira,  voluptas, 
Gaudia,  discursus,  nostri  est  farrago  libelli." 

Juvenal,  i.  85. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  2  I  I 

given  in  my  last  Chapter:  For  in  his  Youth  he  had 
acted  Low  Humour  with  great  Success,  even  down 
to  Tallboy  in  the  Jovial  Crew  ;  and  when  he  was  in 
great  Esteem  as  a  Tragedian,  he  was,  in  Comedy, 
the  most  complete  Gentleman  that  I  ever  saw  upon 
the  Stage.  Let  me  add,  too,  that  Bctleriou,  in  his 
declining  Age,  was  as  eminent  in  Sir  John  Falstaff, 
as  in  the  Vigour  of  it,  in  his  Othello. 

While  I  thus  measure  the  Value  of  an  Actor  by 
the  Variety  of  Shapes  he  is  able  to  throw  himself 
into,  you  may  naturally  suspect  that  I  am  all  this 
while  leading  my  own  Theatrical  Character  into  your 
Favour :  Why  really,  to  speak  as  an  honest  Man,  I 
cannot  wholly  deny  it :  But  in  this  I  shall  endeavour 
to  be  no  farther  partial  to  myself  than  known  Facts 
will  make  me ;  from  the  good  or  bad  Evidence  of 
which  your  better  Judgment  will  condemn  or  acquit 
me.  And  to  shew  you  that  I  will  conceal  no  Truth 
that  is  against  me,  I  frankly  own  that  had  I  been 
always  left  to  my  own  choice  of  Characters,  I  am 
doubtful  whether  I  migfht  ever  have  deserv'd  an 
equal  Share  of  that  Estimation  which  the  Publick 
seem'd  to  have  held  me  in :  Nor  am  I  sure  that  it 
was  not  Vanity  in  me  often  to  have  suspected  that  I 
was  kept  out  of  the  Parts  I  had  most  mind  to  by 
the  Jealousy  or  Prejudice  of  my  Cotemporaries ; 
some  Instances  of  which  I  could  give  you,  were  they 
not  too  slight  to  be  remember'd  :  In  the  mean  time, 
be  pleas'd  to  observe  how  slowly,  in  my  younger 
Days,  my  Good-fortune  came  forward. 

212  THE    LIFE    OF 

My  early  Success  in  the  Old  Batchelor,  of  which  I 
have  given  so  full  an  Account,  having  open'd  no 
farther  way  to  my  Advancement,  was  enough,  per- 
haps, to  have  made  a  young  Fellow  of  more  Modesty 
despair ;  but  being  of  a  Temper  not  easily  dishearten'd, 
I  resolv'd  to  leave  nothing  unattempted  that  might 
shew  me  in  some  new  Rank  of  Distinction.  Having 
then  no  other  Resource,  I  was  at  last  reduc'd  to  write  a 
Character  for  myself;  but  as  that  was  not  finish'd  till 
about  a  Year  after,  I  could  not,  in  the  Interim,  procure 
any  one  Part  that  gave  me  the  least  Inclination  to  act 
it ;  and  consequently  such  as  I  got  I  perform'd  with  a 
proportionable  Negligence.  But  this  Misfortune,  if 
it  were  one,  you  are  not  to  wonder  at ;  for  the  same 
Fate  attended  me,  more  or  less,  to  the  last  Days  of 
my  remaining  on  the  Stage.  What  Defect  in  me 
this  may  have  been  owing  to,  I  have  not  yet  had 
Sense  enough  to  find  out ;  but  I  soon  found  out  as 
good  a  thing,  which  was,  never  to  be  mortify'd  at  it : 
Though  I  am  afraid  this  seeming  Philosophy  was 
rather  owing  to  my  IncHnation  to  Pleasure  than 
Business.  But  to  my  Point.  The  next  Year  I  pro- 
duc'd  the  Comedy  of  Loves  last  Shift;  yet  the 
Difficulty  of  getting  it  to  the  Stage  was  not  easily 
surmounted  ;  for,  at  that  time,  as  little  was  expected 
from  me,  as  an  Author,  as  had  been  from  my  Pre- 
tensions to  be  an  Actor.  However,  Mr.  Southern, 
the  Author  of  Oroonoko,  having  had  the  Patience  to 
hear  me  read  it  to  him,  happened  to  like  it  so  well 
that  he  immediately  recommended  it  to  the  Patentees, 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  213 

and  It  was  accordingly  acted  in  January  1695.^  I^ 
this  Play  I  gave  myself  the  Part  of  Sir  Novelty, 
which  was  thought  a  good  Portrait  of  the  Foppery 
then  in  fashion.  Here,  too,  Mr.  Southern,  though 
he  had  approv'd  my  Play,  came  into  the  common 
Diffidence  of  me  as  an  Actor :  For,  when  on  the 
first  Day  of  it  I  was  standing,  myself,  to  prompt  the 
Prologue,  he  took  me  by  the  Hand  and  said.  Young 
Man !  I  pronoimce  thy  Play  a  good  one ;  I  will 
answer  for  its  Success'^  if  thou  dost  not  spoil  it  by  thy 
own  Action.  Though  this  might  be  a  fair  Salvo  for 
his  favourable  Judgment  of  the  Play,  yet,  if  it  were 
his  real  Opinion  of  me  as  an  Actor,  I  had  the  good 
Fortune  to  deceive  him :  I  succeeded  so  well  in  both, 
that  People  seem'd  at  a  loss  which  they  should  give 

^  That  is,  January,  1696.     The  cast  was  : — 

"  Love's  last  Shift ;  or,  the  Fool  in  Fashion." 

Sir  William  Wisewoud      .     .     .     Mr.  Johnson. 

Loveless Mr.  Verbruggen. 

Sir  Novelty  Fashion    ....     Mr.  Gibber. 

Elder  Worthy Mr.  Williams. 

Young  Worthy Mr.  Horden. 

Snap Mr.  Penkethman. 

Sly Mr.  Bullock. 

Lawyer Mr.  Mills. 

Amanda Mrs.  Rogers. 

Narcissa Mrs.  Verbruggen. 

Hillaria Mrs.  Gibber. 

Mrs.  Flareit Mrs.  Kent. 

Amanda's  Woman Mrs.  Lucas. 

^  In  the  Dedication  to  this  play  Gibber  says  that  "  Mr. 
Southern's,  Good-nature  (whose  own  Works  best  recommend  his 
Judgment)  engaged  his  Reputation  for  the  Success." 

214  THE    LIFE    OF 

the  Preference  to/  But  (now  let  me  shew  a  Httle 
more  Vanity,  and  my  Apology  for  it  shall  come  after) 
the  Compliment  which  my  Lord  Dorset  (then  Lord- 
Chamberlain)  made  me  upon  it  is,  I  own,  what  I  had 
rather  not  suppress,  viz.  That  it  was  the  best  First  Play 
that  any  Author  hi  his  Memory  had  producd;  and 
that  for  a  young  Fellow  to  shew  himself  such  an  Actor 
and  such  a  Writer  in  one  Day,  was  something  extra- 
ordinary. But  as  this  noble  Lord  has  been  cele- 
brated for  his  Good-nature,  I  am  contented  that  as 
much  of  this  Compliment  should  be  suppos'd  to 
exceed  my  Deserts  as  may  be  imagin'd  to  have  been 
heighten'd  by  his  generous  Inclination  to  encourage 
a  young  Beginner.  If  this  Excuse  cannot  soften  the 
Vanity  of  telling  a  Truth  so  much  in  my  own  Favour, 
I  must  lie  at  the  Mercy  of  my  Reader.  But  there 
was  a  still  higher  Compliment  pass'd  upon  me  which 
I  may  publish  without  Vanity,  because  it  was  not  a 
design'd  one,  and  apparently  came  from  my  Enemies, 
viz.  That,  to  their  certain  Knowledge,  it  was  not  my 
own :  This  Report  is  taken  notice  of  in  my  Dedica- 
tion to  the  Play.^     If  they  spoke  Truth,  if  they  knew 

^  Gildon  praises  this  play  highly  in  the  *'  Comparison  between 
the  two  Stages,"  p.  25  : — 

"  Rainble.  Ay,  marry,  that  Play  was  the  Philosopher's  Stone ;  I 
think  it  did  wonders. 

Sullen.  It  did  so,  and  very  deservedly ;  there  being  few  Comedies 
tliat  came  up  to't  for  purity  of  Plot,  Manners  and  Moral :  It's 
often  acted  now  a  daies,  and  by  the  help  of  the  Author's  own 
good  action,  it  pleases  to  this  Day." 

"  Davies  ("Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  437)  says:  "So  little  was  hoped 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  215 

what  Other  Person  it  really  belong'd  to,  I  will  at  least 
allow  them  true  to  their  Trust ;  for  above  forty  Years 
have  since  past,  and  they  have  not  yet  reveal'd  the 

The  new  Light  in  which  the  Character  of  Sir 
Novelty  had  shewn  me,  one  might  have  thought  were 
enough  to  have  dissipated  the  Doubts  of  what  I 
might  now  be  possibly  good  for.  But  to  whatever 
Chance  my  Ill-fortune  was  due ;  whether  I  had  still 
but  little  Merit,  or  that  the  Menagers,  if  I  had  any, 
were  not  competent  Judges  of  it;  or  whether  I  was 
not  generally  elbow'd  by  other  Actors  (which  I  am 
most  inclin'd  to  think  the  true  Cause)  when  any  fresh 
Parts  were  to  be  dispos'd  of,  not  one  Part  of  any 
consequence  was  I  preferr'd  to  'till  the  Year  follow- 
ing: Then,  indeed,  from  Sir  Johi  Vanbrug/is  favour- 

from  the  genius  of  Gibber,  that  the  critics  reproached  him  with 
stealing  his  play.  To  his  censurers  he  makes  a  serious  defence 
of  himself,  in  his  dedication  to  Richard  Norton,  Esq.,  of  South- 
wick,  a  gentleman  who  was  so  fond  of  stage-plays  and  players, 
that  he  has  been  accused  of  turning  his  chapel  into  a  theatre. 
The  furious  John  Dennis,  who  hated  Gibber  for  obstructing,  as 
he  imagined,  the  progress  of  his  tragedy  called  the  Invader  of 
his  Gountry,  in  very  passionate  terms  denies  his  claim  to  this 
comedy :  '  When  the  Fool  in  Fashion  was  first  acted  (says  the 
critic)  Gibber  was  hardly  twenty  years  of  age — how  could  he,  at 
the  age  of  twenty,  write  a  comedy  with  a  just  design,  distinguished 
characters,  and  a  proper  dialogue,  who  now,  at  forty,  treats  us 
with  Hibernian  sense  and  Hibernian  English?'" 

^  This  same  accusation  was  made  against  Gibber  on  other 
occasions.  Dr.  Johnson,  referring  to  one  of  these,  said:  "There 
was  no  reason  to  believe  that  the  Careless  Husband  was  not 
written  by  himself" — Boswell's  Johnson,  ii.  340. 

2l6  THE    LIFE    OF 

able  Opinion  of  me,  I  began,  with  others,  to  have  a 
better  of  myself:  For  he  not  only  did  me  Honour  as 
an  Author  by  writing  his  Relapse  as  a  Sequel  or 
Second  Part  to  Loves  last  Shift,  but  as  an  Actor 
too,  by  preferring  me  to  the  chief  Character  in  his 
own  Play,  (which  from  Sir  Novelty)  he  had  ennobled 
by  the  Style  of  Baron  of  Foppington.  This  Play 
(the  Relapse)  from  its  new  and  easy  Turn  of  Wit, 
had  great  Success,  and  gave  me,  as  a  Comedian,  a 
second  Flight  of  Reputation  along  with  it.^ 

As  the  Matter  I  write  must  be  very  flat  or  im- 
pertinent to  those  who  have  no  Taste  or  Concern 
for  the  Stage,  and  may  to  those  who  delight  in  it, 
too,  be  equally  tedious  when  I  talk  of  no  body  but 
myself,  I  shall  endeavour  to  relieve  your  Patience 
by  a  Word  or  two  more  of  this  Gentleman,  so  far  as 
he  lent  his  Pen  to  the  Support  of  the  Theatre. 

Though  the  Relapse  was  the  first  Play  this  agree- 
able Author  produc'd,  yet  it  was  not,  it  seems,  the 
first  he  had  written  ;  for  he  had  at  that  time  by  him 
(more  than)  all  the  Scenes  that  were  acted  of  the 
P7'ovoJzd  Wife ;  but  being  then  doubtful  whether  he 
should  ever  trust  them  to  the  Staee,  he  thought  no 
more  of  it :  But  after  the  Success  of  the  Relapse  he 
was  more  strongly  importun'd  than  able  to  refuse  it 

^  "The  Relapse;  or,  Virtue  in  Danger,"  was  produced  at 
Drury  Lane  in  1697.  Gibber's  part  in  it,  Lord  Foppington,  be- 
came one  of  his  most  famous  characters.  The  "  Comparison 
between  the  two  Stages,"  p.  32,  says:  "  Oronoko,  ^sop,  and 
Relapse  are  Master-pieces,  and  subsisted  Drury-lane  House,  the 
first  two  or  three  Years." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  21  7 

to  the  Publfck.  Why  the  last-written  Play  was  first 
acted,  and  for  what  Reason  they  were  given  to 
different  Stages,  what  follows  will  explain. 

In  his  first  Step  into  publick  Life,  when  he  was 
but  an  Ensign  and  had  a  Heart  above  his  Income, 
he  happen'd  somewhere  at  his  Winter-Quarters, 
upon  a  very  slender  Acquaintance  with  Sir  Thomas 
Skipwithy  to  receive  a  particular  Obligation  from  him 
which  he  had  not  forgot  at  the  Time  I  am  speaking 
of:  When  Sir  Thomas  s  Interest  in  the  Theatrical 
Patent  (for  he  had  a  large  Share  in  it,  though  he 
little  concern'd  himself  in  the  Conduct  of  it)  was 
rising  but  very  slowly,  he  thought  that  to  give  it  a 
Lift  by  a  new  Comedy,  if  it  succeeded,  might  be  the 
handsomest  Return  he  could  make  to  those  his  former 
Favours ;  and  having  observ'd  that  in  Loves  last 
Shift  most  of  the  Actors  had  acquitted  themselves 
beyond  what  was  expected  of  them,  he  took  a  sudden 
Hint  from  what  he  lik'd  in  that  Play,  and  in  less 
than  three  Months,  in  the  beginning  of  April  follow- 
ing, brought  us  the  Relapse  finish'd  ;  but  the  Season 
being  then  too  far  advanc'd,  it  was  not  acted  'till  the 
succeeding  Winter.  Upon  the  Success  of  the  Relapse 
the  late  Lord  Hallifax,  who  was  a  great  Favourer  of 
Bettertons  Company,  having  formerly,  by  way  of 
Family-Amusement,  heard  the  ProvoJzd  Wife  read 
to  him  in  its  looser  Sheets,  engag'd  Sir  John  Van- 
britgh  to  revise  it  and  gave  it  to  the  Theatre  in 
Lincoln  s-Inn  Fields,  This  was  a  Request  not  to  be 
refus'd  to  so  eminent  a  Patron  of  the  Muses  as  the 

2l8  THE    LIFE    OF 

Lord  Hallifax,  who  was  equally  a  Friend  and  Ad- 
mirer of  Sir  Johi  himself/  Nor  was  Sir  Thomas 
Skipwith  in  the  least  disobliged  by  so  reasonable  a 
Compliance  :  After  which,  Sir  John  was  agen  at 
liberty  to  repeat  his  Civilities  to  his  Friend  Sir 
Thomas,  and  about  the  same  time,  or  not  long  after, 
gave  us  the  Comedy  of  ySsopy  for  his  Inclination 
always  led  him  to  serve  Sir  Thontas.  Besides,  our 
Company  about  this  time  began  to  be  look'd  upon  in 
another  Light ;  the  late  Contempt  we  had  lain  under 
was  now  wearing  off,  and  from  the  Success  of  two  or 
three  new  Plays,  our  Actors,  by  being  Originals  in  a 
few  good  Parts  where  they  had  not  the  Disadvantage 
of  Comparison  against  them,  sometimes  found  new 
Favour  in  those  old  Plays  where  others  had  exceeded 

Of  this  Good-fortune  perhaps  I  had  more  than  my 
Share  from  the  two  very  different  chief  Characters  I 
had  succeeded  in ;  for  I  was  equally  approv'd  in  y^sop 
as  the  Lord  Foppingtoit,  allowing  the  Difference  to 
be  no  less  than  as  Wisdom  in  a  Person  deform'd 
may  be  less  entertaining  to  the  general  Taste  than 

^  "  The  Provoked  Wife  "  was  produced  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields 
in  1697;  and,  as  Gibber  states,  "  ^sop  "  was  played  at  Drury 
Lane  in  the  same  year.  It  seems  (see  Prologue  to  "  The  Con- 
federacy ")  that  Vanbrugh  gave  his  first  three  plays  as  presents  to 
the  Companies. 

^  "Comparison  between  the  two  Stages,"  p.  12:  "In  the 
meantime  the  Mushrooms  in  Di-ury-Lane  shoot  up  from  such  a 
desolate  Fortune  into  a  considerable  Name ;  and  not  only  grappled 
with  their  Rivals,  but  almost  eclipst  'em." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  219 

Folly  and  Foppery  finely  drest :  For  the  Character 
that  delivers  Precepts  of  Wisdom  is,  in  some  sort, 
severe  upon  the  Auditor  by  shewing  him  one  wiser 
than  himself.  But  when  Folly  is  his  Object  he 
applauds  himself  for  being  wiser  than  the  Coxcomb 
he  laughs  at :  And  who  is  not  more  pleas'd  with  an 
Occasion  to  commend  than  accuse  himself  ? 

Though  to  write  much  in  a  little  time  is  no  Ex- 
cuse for  writing  ill ;  yet  Sir  John  VanbrugJis  Pen  is 
not  to  be  a  little  admir'd  for  its  Spirit,  Ease,  and 
Readiness  in  producing  Plays  so  fast  upon  the  Neck 
of  one  another;  for,  notwithstanding  this  quick  Dis- 
patch, there  is  a  clear  and  lively  Simplicity  in  his 
Wit  that  neither  wants  the  Ornament  of  Learning 
nor  has  the  least  Smell  of  the  Lamp  in  it.  As 
the  Face  of  a  fine  Woman,  with  only  her  Locks 
loose  about  her,  may  be  then  in  its  greatest  Beauty ; 
such  were  his  Productions,  only  adorn'd  by  Nature. 
There  is  something  so  catching  to  the  Ear,  so  easy 
to  the  Memory,  in  all  he  writ,  that  it  has  been  ob- 
serv'd  by  all  the  Actors  of  my  Time,  that  the  Style 
of  no  Author  whatsoever  gave  their  Memory  less 
trouble  than  that  of  Sir  Jolm  Vanbrugh ;  which  I 
myself,  who  have  been  charg'd  with  several  of  his 
strongest  Characters,  can  confirm  by  a  pleasing  Ex- 
perience. And  indeed  his  Wit  and  Humour  was  so 
litde  laboured,  that  his  most  entertaining  Scenes 
seem'd  to  be  no  more  than  his  common  Conversation 
committed  to  Paper.  Here  I  confess  my  Judgment 
at  a  Loss,  whether  in  this  I  give  him  more  or  less 

2  20  THE    LIFE    OF 

than  his  due  Praise  ?  For  may  it  not  be  more  laud- 
able to  raise  an  Estate  (whether  in  Wealth  or  Fame) 
by  Pains  and  honest  Industry  than  to  be  born  to 
it  ?  Yet  if  his  Scenes  really  were,  as  to  me  they 
always  seem'd,  delightful,  are  they  not,  thus  expe- 
ditiously written,  the  more  surprising  ?  let  the  Wit 
and  Merit  of  them  then  be  weigh'd  by  wiser  Criticks 
than  I  pretend  to  be  :  But  no  wonder,  while  his  Con- 
ceptions were  so  full  of  Life  and  Humour,  his  Muse" 
should  be  sometimes  too  warm  to  wait  the  slow  Pace 
of  Judgment,  or  to  endure  the  Drudgery  of  forming 
a  regular  Fable  to  them :  Yet  we  see  the  Relapse, 
however  imperfect  in  the  Conduct,  by  the  mere  Force 
of  its  agreeable  Wit,  ran  away  with  the  Hearts  of  its 
Hearers;  while  Loves  last  Shift,  which  (as  Mr.  Con- 
greve  justly  said  of  it)  had  only  in  it  a  great  many 
things  that  were  like  Wit,  that  in  reality  were  not 
Wit :  And  what  is  still  less  pardonable  (as  I  say  of  it 
myself)  has  a  great  deal  of  Puerility  and  frothy 
Stage- Language  in  it,  yet  by  the  mere  moral  Delight 
receiv'd  from  its  Fable,  it  has  been,  with  the  other, 
in  a  continued  and  equal  Possession  of  the  Stage  for 
more  than  forty  Years/ 

As  I  have  already  promis'd  you  to  refer  your  Judg- 
ment of  me  as  an  Actor  rather  to  known  Facts  than 
my  own  Opinion  (which  I  could  not  be  sure  would 
keep  clear  of  Self- Partiality)  I  must  a  little  farther 
risque  my  being  tedious  to  be  as  good  as  my  Word. 

^  The  last  performance  of  this  comedy  which  Genest  indexes 
was  at  Covent  Garden,  14th  February,  1763. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  221 

I  have  elsewhere  allow'd  that  my  want  of  a  strong 
and  full  Voice  soon  cut  short  my  Hopes  of  making 
any  valuable  Figure  in  Tragedy ;  and  I  have  been 
many  Years  since  convinced,  that  whatever  Opinion 
I  might  have  of  my  own  Judgment  or  Capacity 
to  amend  the  palpable  Errors  that  I  saw  our 
Tragedians  most  in  favour  commit ;  yet  the  Audi- 
tors who  would  have  been  sensible  of  any  such 
Amendments  (could  I  have  made  them)  were  so  very 
few,  that  my  best  Endeavour  would  have  been  but 
an  unavailing  Labour,  or,  what  is  yet  worse,  might 
have  appeared  both  to  our  Actors  and  to  many 
Auditors  the  vain  Mistake  of  my  own  Self-Conceit : 
For  so  strong,  so  very  near  indispensible,  is  that  one 
Article  of  Voice  in  the  forming  a  good  Tragedian, 
that  an  Actor  may  want  any  other  Qualification 
whatsoever,  and  yet  have  a  better  chance  for  Ap- 
plause than  he  will  ever  have,  with  all  the  Skill  in  the 
World,  if  his  Voice  is  not  equal  to  it.  Mistake  me 
not;  I  say,  for  Applause  only — but  Applause  does 
not  always  stay  for,  nor  always  follow  intrinsick 
Merit ;  Applause  will  frequently  open,  like  a  young 
Hound,  upon  a  wrong  Scent ;  and  the  Majority  of 
Auditors,  you  know,  are  generally  compos'd  of  Bab- 
blers that  are  profuse  of  their  Voices  before  there  is 
any  thing  on  foot  that  calls  for  them.  Not  but,  I 
grant,  to  lead  or  mislead  the  Many  will  always  stand 
in  some  Rank  of  a  necessary  Merit;  yet  when  I  say 
a  good  Tragedian,  I  mean  one  in  Opinion  of  whose 
real  Merit  the  best  Judges  would  agree. 


22  2  THE    LIFE    OF 

Having  so  far  given  up  my  Pretensions  to  the 
Buskin,  I  ought  now  to  account  for  my  having  been, 
notwithstanding,  so  often  seen  in  some  particular 
Characters  in  Tragedy,  as  Jago}  Wolsey,  Syphax, 
Richard  the  Third,  &c.  If  in  any  of  this  kind  I 
have  succeeded,  perhaps  it  has  been  a  Merit  dearly 
purchas'd  ;  for,  from  the  Delight  I  seem'd  to  take  in 
my  performing  them,  half  my  Auditors  have  been 
persuaded  that  a  great  Share  of  the  Wickedness 
of  them  must  have  been  in  my  own  Nature : 
If  this  is  true,  as  true  I  fear  (I  had  almost  said 
hope)  it  is,  I  look  upon  it  rather  as  a  Praise  than 
Censure  of  my  Performance.  Aversion  there  is 
an  involuntary  Commendation,  where  we  are  only 
hated  for  being  like  the  thing  we  ought  to  be  like  ;  a 
sort  of  Praise,  however,  which  few  Actors  besides 
my  self  could  endure :  Had  it  been  equal  to  the 
usual  Praise  given  to  Virtue,  my  Cotemporaries 
would  have  thought  themselves  injur'd  if  I  had  pre- 
tended to  any  Share  of  it :  So  that  you  see  it  has  been 
as  much  the  Dislike  others  had  to  them,  as  Choice 
that  has  thrown  me  sometimes  into  these  Characters. 
But  it  may  be  farther  observ'd,  that  in  the  Characters 
I  have  nam'd,  where  there  is  so  much  close  meditated 

1  Davies  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  469)  says  :  "  The  truth  is,  Gibber 
was  endured,  in  this  and  other  tragic  parts,  on  account  of  his  general 
merit  in  comedy;"  and  the  author  of  "The  Laureat,"  p.  41, 
remarks :  "  I  have  often  heard  him  blamed  as  a  Trifler  in  that 
Part ;  he  was  rarely  perfect,  and,  abating  for  the  Badness  of  his 
Voice  and  the  Insignificancy  and  Meanness  of  his  Action,  he  did 
not  seem  to  understand  either  what  he  said  or  what  he  was  about." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  223 

Mischief,  Deceit,  Pride,  Insolence,  or  Cruelty,  they 
cannot  have  the  least  Cast  or  Profer  of  the  Amiable 
in  them  ;  consequently,  there  can  be  no  great  De- 
mand for  that  harmonious  Sound,  or  pleasing  round 
Melody  of  Voice,  which  in  the  softer  Sentiments  of 
Love,  the  Wailings  of  distressful  Virtue,  or  in  the 
Throws  and  Swellings  of  Honour  and  Ambition, 
may  be  needful  to  recommend  them  to  our  F*ity  or 
Admiration  :  So  that,  again,  my  want  of  that  requisite 
Voice  might  less  disqualify  me  for  the  vicious  than 
the  virtuous  Character.  This  too  may  have  been  a 
more  favourable  Reason  for  my  having  been  chosen 
for  them — a  yet  farther  Consideration  that  inclin'd 
me  to  them  was  that  they  are  generally  better  written, 
thicker  sown  with  sensible  Reflections,  and  come  by 
so  much  nearer  to  common  Life  and  Nature  than 
Characters  of  Admiration,  as  Vice  is  more  the  Prac- 
tice of  Mankind  than  Virtue  :  Nor  could  I  sometimes 
help  smiling  at  those  dainty  Actors  that  w-ere  too 
squeamish  to  swallow  them  !  as  if  they  were  one  Jot 
the  better  Men  for  acting  a  good  Man  well,  or  another 
Man  the  worse  for  doing  equal  Justice  to  a  bad  one  ! 
'Tis  not,  sure,  what  we  act,  but  how  we  act  what  is 
allotted  us,  that  speaks  our  intrinsick  Value!  as  in 
real  Life,  the  wise  Man  or  the  Fool,  be  he  Prince  or 
Peasant,  will  in  either  State  be  equally  the  Fool  or 
the  wise  Man — but  alas  !  in  personated  Life  this  is 
no  Rule  to  the  Vulgar !  they  are  apt  to  think  all 
before  them  real,  and  rate  the  Actor  according  to  his 
borrow'd  Vice  or  Virtue. 

2  24  ^^^   L^^^    ^^ 

If  then  I  had  always  too  careless  a  Concern  for 
false  or  vulgar  Applause,  I  ought  not  to  complain  if 
I  have  had  less  of  it  than  others  of  my  time,  or  not 
less  of  it  than  I  desired :  Yet  I  will  venture  to  say, 
that  from  the  common  weak  Appetite  of  false  Ap- 
plause, many  Actors  have  run  into  more  Errors  and 
Absurdities,  than  their  greatest  Ignorance  could  other- 
wise have  committed  :  Mf  this  Charge  is  true,  it  will 
lie  chiefly  upon  the  better  Judgment  of  the  Spectator 
to  reform  it. 

But  not  to  make  too  great  a  Merit  of  my  avoiding 
this  common  Road  to  Applause,  perhaps  I  was  vain 
enough  to  think  I  had  more  ways  than  one  to  come 
at  it.  That,  in  the  Variety  of  Characters  I  acted, 
the  Chances  to  win  it  were  the  stronger  on  my  Side 
— That,  if  the  Multitude  were  not  in  a  Roar  to  see 
me  in  Cardinal  Wolsey,  I  could  be  sure  of  them  in 
Alderman  Fondlewife,  If  they  hated  me  mjago,  in 
Sir  Fop  ling  they  took  me  for  a  fine  Gentleman ;  if 
they  were  silent  at  Syphax,  no  Italian  Eunuch  was 
more  applauded  than  when  I  sung  in  Sir  Courtly.  If 
the  Morals  of  ^sop  were  too  grave  for  them,  Justice 
Shallow  was  as  simple  and  as  merry  an  old  Rake  as 
the  wisest  of  our  young  ones  could  wish  me.'^     And 

^  "The  Laureat,"  p.  44  :  "Whatever  the  Actors  appear'd  upon 
the  Stage,  they  were  most  of  them  Barbarians  off  on't,  few  of  them 
having  had  the  Education,  or  whose  Fortunes  could  admit  them 
to  the  Conversation  of  Gentlemen." 

^  Davies  praises  Gibber  in  Fondlewife,  saying  that  he  "  was 
much  and  justly  admired  and  applauded  "  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  225 

though  the  Terror  and  Detestation  raised  by  King 
Richard  might  be  too  severe  a  Delight  for  them,  yet 
the  more  gentle  and  modern  Vanities  of  a  Poet  Bays, 
or  the  well-bred  Vices  of  a  Lord  Foppington,  were 
not  at  all  more  than  their  merry  Hearts  or  nicer 
Morals  could  bear. 

These  few  Instances  out  of  fifty  more  I  could  give 
you,  may  serve  to  explain  what  sort  of  Merit  I  at 
most  pretended  to ;  which  was,  that  I  supplied  with 
Variety   whatever  I  might  want   of  that  particular 

391);  and  in  the  same  work  (i.  306)  he  gives  an  admirable  sketch 
of  Gibber  as  Justice  Shallow  : — 

"Whether  he  was  a  copy  or  an  original  in  Shallow,  it  is  certain 
no  audience  was  ever  more  fixed  in  deep  attention,  at  his  first 
appearance,  or  more  shaken  with  laughter  in  the  progress  of  the 
scene,  than  at  Colley  Gibber's  exhibition  of  this  ridiculous  justice 
of  peace.  Some  years  after  he  had  left  the  stage,  he  acted 
Shallow  for  his  son's  benefit.  I  believe  in  1737,  when  Quin  was 
the  Falstaff,  and  Milward  the  King.  Whether  it  was  owing  to  the 
pleasure  the  spectators  felt  on  seeing  their  old  friend  return  to 
them  again,  though  for  that  night  only,  after  an  absence  of  some 
years,  I  know  not;  but,  surely,  no  actor  or  audience  were 
better  pleased  with  each  other.  His  manner  was  so  perfectly 
simple,  his  look  so  vacant,  when  he  questioned  his  cousin  Silence 
about  the  price  of  ewes,  and  lamented,  in  the  same  breath,  with 
silly  surprise,  the  death  of  Old  Double,  that  it  will  be  impossible 
for  any  surviving  spectator  not  to  smile  at  the  remembrance  of  it. 
The  want  of  ideas  occasions  Shallow  to  repeat  almost  every  thing 
he  says.  Gibber's  transition,  from  asking  the  price  of  bullocks,  to 
trite,  but  grave  reflections  on  mortahty,  was  so  natural,  and  attended 
with  such  an  unmeaning  roll  of  his  small  pigs-eyes,  accompanied 
with  an  important  utterance  of  tick  !  tick  !  tick  !  not  much  louder 
than  the  balance  of  a  watch,  that  I  question  if  any  actor  was  ever 
superior  in  the  conception  or  expression  of  such  solemn  insignifi- 

2  26  THE    LIFE    OF    MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER. 

Skill  wherein  others  went  before  me.  How  this 
Variety  was  executed  (for  by  that  only  is  its  value  to 
be  rated)  you  who  have  so  often  been  my  Spectator 
are  the  proper  Judge  :  If  you  pronounce  my  Per- 
formance to  have  been  defective,  I  am  condemn'd 
by  my  own  Evidence ;  if  you  acquit  me,  these 
Out-lines  may  serve  for  a  Sketch  of  my  Theatrical 


The  State  of  the  Stage  continued.  The  Occasion  <?/WilksV  commenc- 
ing Actor.  His  Success.  Facts  relating  to  his  Theatrical  Talent. 
Actors  more  or  less  esteem' d  frofn  their  private  Characters. 

THE  Lincoln s- Inn- Fields  Company  were  now, 
in  1693/  a  Common-wealth,  like  that  oi  Hol- 
land, divided  from  the  Tyranny  of  Spain :  But  the 
Similitude  goes  very  little  farther;  short  was  the 
Duration  of  the  Theatrical  Power !  for  tho'  Success 
pour'd  in  so  fast  upon  them  at  their  first  Opening 

^  I  presume  Gibber  means  1695.  The  Company  was  self- 
governed  from  its  commencement  in  1695,  and  the  disintegration 
seems  to  have  begun  in  the  next  season.  See  what  Gibber  says  of 
Dogget's  defection  a  few  pages  on. 

228  THE    LIFE    OF 

that  every  thing  seem'd  to  support  it  self,  yet  Expe- 
rience in  a  Year  or  two  shew'd  them  that  they  had 
never  been  worse  govern'd  than  when  they  govern'd 
themselves !  Many  of  them  began  to  make  their 
particular  Interest  more  their  Point  than  that  of  the 
general :  and  tho'  some  Deference  might  be  had  to 
the  Measures  and  Advice  of  Better to7z,  several  of 
them  wanted  to  govern  in  their  Turn,  and  were 
often  out  of  Humour  that  their  Opinion  was  not 
equally  regarded — But  have  we  not  seen  the  same 
Infirmity  in  Senates  ?  The  Tragedians  seem'd  to 
think  their  Rank  as  much  above  the  Comedians  as 
in  the  Characters  they  severally  acted ;  when  the 
first  were  in  their  Finery,  the  latter  were  impatient 
at  the  Expence,  and  look'd  upon  it  as  rather  laid  out 
upon  the  real  than  the  fictitious  Person  of  the  Actor ; 
nay,  I  have  known  in  our  own  Company  this  ridicu- 
lous sort  of  Regret  carried  so  far,  that  the  Tragedian 
has  thought  himself  injured  when  the  Comedian  pre- 
tended to  wear  a  fine  Coat !  I  remember  Powel,  upon 
surveying  my  first  Dress  in  the  Relapse,  was  out  of 
all  temper,  and  reproach'd  our  Master  in  very  rude 
Terms  that  he  had  not  so  good  a  Suit  to  play  Ccssar 
Borgia^  in  !  tho'  he  knew,  at  the  same  time,  my  Lord 
Foppington  fill'd  the  House,  when  his  bouncing 
Borgia  would  do  little  more  than  pay  Fiddles  and 
Candles  to  it :    And  though  a  Character  of  Vanity 

^  In  Lee's  tragedy  of  "Caesar  Borgia,"  originally  played  at 
Dorset  Garden  in  1680.  Borgia  was  Betterton's  part,  and  was 
evidently  one  of  those  which  Powell  laid  violent  hands  on. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  229 

might  be  supposed  more  expensive  in  Dress  than 
possibly  one  of  Ambition,  yet  the  high  Heart  of  this 
heroical  Actor  could  not  bear  that  a  Comedian 
should  ever  pretend  to  be  as  well  dress'd  as  himself. 
Thus  again,  on  the  contrary,  when  Betterton  pro- 
posed to  set  off  a  Tragedy,  the  Comedians  were  sure 
to  murmur  at  the  Charge  of  it :  And  the  late 
Reputation  which  Dogget  had  acquired  from  acting 
his  Ben  in  Love  for  Love,  made  him  a  more  declared 
Male-content  on  such  Occasions ;  he  over-valued 
Comedy  for  its  being  nearer  to  Nature  than  Tra- 
gedy, which  is  allow'd  to  say  many  fine  things  that 
Nature  never  spoke  in  the  same  Words ;  and  sup- 
posing his  Opinion  were  just,  yet  he  should  have 
consider'd  that  the  Publick  had  a  Taste  as  well  as 
himself,  which  in  Policy  he  ought  to  have  complied 
with.  Dogget,  however,  could  not  with  Patience 
look  upon  the  costly  Trains  and  Plumes  of  Tragedy, 
in  which  knowing  himself  to  be  useless,  he  thought 
were  all  a  vain  Extravagance  :  And  when  he  found 
his  Singularity  could  no  longer  oppose  that  Expence, 
he  so  obstinately  adhered  to  his  own  Opinion,  that 
he  left  the  Society  of  his  old  Friends,  and  came  over 
to  us  at  the  Theatre-Royal :  And  yet  this  Actor 
always  set  up  for  a  Theatrical  Patriot.  This  hap- 
pened in  the  Winter  following  the  first  Division  of 
the  (only)  Company.^  He  came  time  enough  to  the 
Theatre-Royal  to  act  the  Part  of  Lory  in  the  Relapse^ 

*  Among  the  Lord  Chamberlain's  Papers  is  a  curious  Decision, 
dated  26  Oct.  1696,  regarding  this  desertion.     By  it,  Dogget,  who 

230  THE    LIFE    OF 

an  arch  Valet,  quite  after  the  French  cast,  pert  and 
famlHar.  But  it  suited  so  ill  with  Doggeis  dry  and 
closely-natural  Manner  of  acting,  that  upon  the  second 
Day  he  desired  it  might  be  disposed  of  to  another  ; 
which  the  Author  complying  with,  gave  it  to  Pen- 
kelkina7i,  vfh.o,t\\o  in  other  Lights  much  his  Inferior, 
yet  this  Part  he  seem'd  better  to  become.  Dogget 
was  so  immovable  in  his  Opinion  of  whatever  he 
thought  was  right  or  wrong,  that  he  could  never  be 
easy  under  any  kind  of  Theatrical  Government,  and 
was  generally^o  warm  in  pursuit  of  his  Interest  that 
he  often  out-ran  it ;  I  remember  him  three  times,  for 
some  Years,  unemploy'd  in  any  Theatre,  from  his 
not  being  able  to  bear,  in  common  with  others,  the 
disagreeable  Accidents  that  in  such  Societies  are 
unavoidable.^  But  whatever  Pretences  he  had  form'd 
for  this  first  deserting  from  Lincoln  s-Inn-Fields,  I 
always  thought  his  best  Reason  for  it  was,  that  he 
look'd  upon  it  as  a  sinking  Ship ;  not  onl}^  from  the  me- 
lancholy Abatement  of  their  Profits,  but  likewise  from 
the  Neglect  and  Disorder  in  their  Government :  He 
plainly  saw  that  their  extraordinary  Success  at  first  had 
made  them  too  confident  of  its  Duration,  and  from 
thence  had  slacken'd  their  Industry — by  which  he 
observ'd,  at  the  same  time,  the  old   House,  where 

is  stated  to  have  been  seduced  from  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  is 
permitted  to  act  where  he  hkes. 

^  Genest's  list  of  Dogget's  characters  shows  that  he  was  appa- 
rently not  engaged  1698  to  1700,  both  inclusive;  for  the  seasons 
1706-7  and  1707-8;  and  for  the  season  1708-9.  This  would  make 
the  three  occasions  mentioned  by  Gibber. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  23 1 

there  was  scarce  any  other  Merit  than  Industry, 
beo-an  to  flourish.  And  indeed  they  seem'd  not 
enough  to  consider  that  the  Appetite  of  the  PubUck, 
Hke  that  of  a  fine  Gentleman,  could  only  be  kept 
warm  by  Variety ;  that  let  their  Merit  be  never  so 
high,  yet  the  Taste  of  a  Town  was  not  always  con- 
stant, nor  infallible  :  That  it  was  dangerous  to  hold 
their  Rivals  in  too  much  Contempt ;  ^  for  they  found 
that  a  young  industrious  Company  were  soon  a  Match 
for  the  best  Actors  when  too  securely  negligent :  And 
negligent  they  certainly  were,  and  fondly  fancied  that 
had  each  of  their  different  Schemes  been  follow'd,  their 
Audiences  would  not  so  suddenly  have  fallen  off.^ 

But  alas !  the  Vanity  of  applauded  Actors,  when 
they  are  not  crowded  to  as  they  may  have  been, 
makes  them  naturally  impute  the  Change  to  any 
Cause  rather  than  the  true  one.  Satiety :  They  are 
mighty  loath  to  think  a  Town,  once  so  fond  of  them, 
could  ever  be  tired  ;  and  yet,  at  one  time  or  other, 
more  or  less  thin  Houses  have  been  the  certain  Fate 

^  Dryden,  in  his  Address  to  Granville  on  his  tragedy  of 
"Heroic  Love"  in  1698,  says  of  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  Com- 
pany : — 

"  Their  setting  sun  still  shoots  a  glimmering  ray, 

Like  ancient  Rome,  majestic  in  decay ; 

And  better  gleanings  their  worn  soil  can  boast, 

Than  the  crab-vintage  of  the  neighbouring  coast." 
^  "Comparison  between  the  two  Stages,"  p.  13:  "But  this 
[the  success  of  *  Love  for  Love ']  like  other  things  of  that  kind, 
being  only  nine  Days  wonder,  and  the  Audiences,  being  in  a  little 
time  sated  with  the  Novelty  of  the  New-house,  return  in  Shoals  to 
the  Old." 

232  THE    LIFE    OF 

of  the  most  prosperous  Actors  ever  since  I  remem- 
ber the  Stage  !  But  against  this  Evil  the  provident 
Patentees  had  found  out  a  ReHef  which  the  new 
House  were  not  yet  Masters  of,  viz.  Never  to  pay 
their  People  when  the  Money  did  not  come  in ;  nor 
then  neither,  but  in  such  Proportions  as  suited  their 
Conveniency.  I  my  self  was  one  of  the  many  who 
for  six  acting  Weeks  together  never  received  one 
Day's  Pay ;  and  for  some  Years  after  seldom  had 
above  half  our  nominal  Sallaries  :  But  to  the  best  of 
my  Memory,  the  Finances  of  the  other  House  held 
it  not  above  one  Season  more,  before  they  were 
reduced  to  the  same  Expedient  of  making  the  like 
scanty  Payments/ 

Such  was  the  Distress  and  Fortune  of  both  these 
Companies  since  their  Division  from  the  Theatre- 
Royal  ;  either  working  at  half  Wages,  or  by  alternate 
Successes  intercepting  the  Bread  from  one  another's 
Mouths  ;^  irreconcilable  Enemies,  yet  without  Hope 

^  Gibber  says  nothing  of  his  having  been  a  member  of  the 
Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  Company.  But  he  was,  for  he  writes  in  his 
Preface  to  "  Woman's  Wit " :  "  during  the  Time  of  my  writing  the 
two  first  Acts  I  was  entertain'd  at  the  New  Theatre.  ...  In  the 
Middle  of  my  Writing  the  Third  Act,  not  Hking  my  Station  there, 
I  return'd  again  to  the  Theatre  Royal."  Gibber  must  have  joined 
Betterton,  I  should  think,  about  the  end  of  1696.  It  is  curious 
that  he  should  in  his  "  Apology "  have  entirely  suppressed  this 
incident.  It  almost  suggests  that  there  was  something  in  it  of 
which  he  was  in  later  years  somewhat  ashamed. 

^  "Comparison  between  the  two  Stages,"  p.  14:  "The  Town 
.  .  .  chang'd  their  Inclinations  for  the  two  Houses,  as  they  found 
'emselves   inclin'd   to   Comedy   or  Tragedy :    If  they   desir'd  a 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  233 

of  Relief  from  a  Victory  on  either  Side ;  sometimes 
both  Parties  reduced,  and  yet  each  supporting  their 
Spirits  by  seeing  the  other  under  the  same  Calamity. 
During  this  State  of  the  Stage  it  was  that  the 
lowest  Expedient  was  made  use  of  to  ingratiate  our 
Company  in  the  Publick  Favour :  Our  Master,  who 
had  sometime  practised  the  Law,^  and  therefore  loved 
a  Storm  better  than  fair  Weather  (for  it  was  his  own 
Conduct  chiefly  that  had  brought  the  Patent  into 
these  Dangers)  took  nothing  so  much  to  Heart  as 
that  Partiality  wherewith  he  imagined  the  People  of 
Quality  had  preferr'd  the  Actors  of  the  other  House 
to  those  of  his  own  :  To  ballance  this  Misfortune,  he 
was  resolv'd,  at  least,  to  be  well  with  their  Domes- 
ticks,  and  therefore  cunningly  open'd  the  upper 
Gallery  to  them  gratis:  For  before  this  time  no 
Footman  was  ever  admitted,  or  had  presum'd  to 
come  into  it,  till  after  the  fourth  Act  was  ended  :  This 
additional  Privilege  (the  greatest  Plague  that  ever 
Play-house  had  to  complain  of)  he  conceived  would 
not  only  incline  them  to  give  us  a  good  Word  in  the 
respective  Families  they  belong'd  to,  but  would  natu- 
rally incite  them  to  come  all  Hands  aloft  in  the  Crack 

Tragedy,  they  went  to  Lincolns-Inn-Fields ;  if  to  Comedy,  they 
flockt  to  Drury-lane." 

'  Christopher  Rich,  of  whom  the  "  Comparison  between  the  two 
Stages"  says  (p.  15):  '' Critick.  In  the  other  House  there's  an 
old  snarling  Lawyer  Master  and  Sovereign ;  a  waspish,  ignorant, 
pettifogger  in  Law  and  Poetry ;  one  who  understands  Poetry  no 
more  than  Algebra ;  he  wou'd  sooner  have  the  Grace  of  God  than 
do  everybody  Justice." 

234  THE    LIFE    OF 

of  our  Applauses  :  And  indeed  it  so  far  succeeded, 
that  it  often  thunder'd  from  the  full  Gallery  above, 
while  our  thin  Pit  and  Boxes  below  were  in  the 
utmost  Serenity.  This  riotous  Privilege,  so  craftily 
given,  and  which  from  Custom  was  at  last  ripen'd 
into  Right,  became  the  most  disgraceful  N  usance 
that  ever  depreciated  the  Theatre.^  How  often  have 
the  most  polite  Audiences,  in  the  most  affecting 
Scenes  of  the  best  Plays,  been  disturb'd  and  insulted 
by  the  Noise  and  Clamour  of  these  savage  Specta- 
tors ?  From  the  same  narrow  way  of  thinking,  too, 
were  so  many  ordinary  People  and  unlick'd  Cubs  of 
Condition  admitted  behind  our  Scenes  for  Money, 
and  sometimes  without  it:  The  Plagues  and  Incon- 
veniences of  which  Custom  we  found  so  intolerable, 
when  we  afterwards  had  the  Stage  in  our  Hands, 
that  at  the  Hazard  of  our  Lives  we  were  forced  to 
get  rid  of  them  ;  and  our  only  Expedient  was  by 
refusing  Money  from  all  Persons  without  Distinction 
at  the  Stage- Door;  by  this  means  we  preserved  to 
ourselves  the  Right  and  Liberty  of  chusing  our  own 
Company  there  :  And  by  a  strict  Observance  of  this 
Order  we  brought  what  had  been  before  debas'd 
into  all  the  Licenses  of  a  Lobby  into  the  Decencies 
of  a  Drawing- Room.'' 

^  This  privilege  seems  to  have  been  granted  about  1697  or  1698. 
It  was  not  abolished  till  1737.  OnsthMay,  1737,  footmen  having 
been  deprivedof  their  privilege,  300  of  them  broke  into  Drury  Lane 
and  did  great  damage.  Many  were,  however,  arrested,  and  no 
attempt  was  made  to  renew  hostilities. 

*  Queen  Anne  issued  several  Edicts  forbidding  persons  to  be 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  235 

About  the  distressful  Time  I  was  speaking  of,  in 
the  Year  1696/  Wilks,  who  now  had  been  five  Years 
in  ofreat  Esteem  on  the  Dublin  Theatre,  return'd  to 
that  of  Drttry-Lane ;  in  which  last  he  had  first  set 
out,  and  had  continued  to  act  some  small  Parts  for 
one  Winter  only.  The  considerable  Figure  which 
he  so  lately  made  upon  the  Stage  in  London,  makes 
me  imagine  that  a  particular  Account  of  his  first 
commencing  Actor  may  not  be  unacceptable  to  the 
Curious ;  I  shall,  therefore,  give  it  them  as  I  had  it 
from  his  own  Mouth. 

In  King  James  s  Reign  he  had  been  some  time 
employ'd  in  the  Secretary's  Office  in  Ireland  (his 
native  Country)  and  remain'd  in  it  till  after  the 
Battle  of  the  Boyn,  which  completed  the  Revolution. 
Upon  that  happy  and  unexpected  Deliverance,  the 
People  of  Dublin,  among  the  various  Expressions  of 
their  Joy,  had  a  mind  to  have  a  Play  ;  but  the  Actors 
being  dispersed  during  the  War,  some  private  Per- 
sons agreed  in  the  best  Manner  they  were  able  to 
give  one  to  the  Publick  gratis  at  the  Theatre.  The 
Play  was  Othello,  in  which  Wilks  acted  the  Moor ; 
and  the  Applause  he  received  in  it  warm'd  him  to  so 
strong  an  Inclination  for  the  Stage,  that  he  imme- 

admitted  behind  the  scenes,  and  in  the  advertisements  of  both 
theatres  there  appeared  the  announcement,  "  By  Her  Majesty's 
Command  no  Persons  are  to  be  admitted  behind  the  Scenes." 
Gibber  here,  no  doubt,  refers  to  the  Sign  Manual  of  13  Nov. 
17 1 1,  a  copy  of  which  is  among  the  Chamberlain's  Papers. 

^  Gibber  is  probably  incorrect  here.  It  seems  certain  from  the 
bills  that  Wilks  did  not  re-appear  in  London  before  1698.  ^ 

236  THE    LIFE    OF 

diately  prefer'd  it  to  all  his  other  Views  in  Life  :  for 
he  quitted  his  Post,  and  with  the  first  fair  Occasion 
came  over  to  try  his  Fortune  in  the  (then  only)  Com- 
pany of  Actors  in  London.  The  Person  who  sup- 
ply'd  his  Post  in  Dublin,  he  told  me,  raised  to  him- 
self from  thence  a  Fortune  of  fifty  thousand  Pounds. 
Here  you  have  a  much  stronger  Instance  of  an  ex- 
travagant Passion  for  the  Stage  than  that  which  I 
have  elsewhere  shewn  in  my  self ;  I  only  quitted  my 
Hopes  of  being  preferr'd  to  the  like  Post  for  it ;  but 
Wilks  quitted  his  actual  Possession  for  the  imaginary 
Happiness  which  the  Life  of  an  Actor  presented  to 
him.  And,  though  possibly  we  might  both  have 
better'd  our  Fortunes  in  a  more  honourable  Station, 
yet  whether  better  Fortunes  might  have  equally 
gratify'd  our  Vanity  (the  universal  Passion  of  Man- 
kind) may  admit  of  a  Question. 

Upon  his  being  formerly  received  into  the  Theatre- 
Royal  (which  was  in  the  Winter  after  I  had  been  initi- 
ated) his  Station  there  was  much  upon  the  same  Class 
with  my  own  ;  our  Parts  were  generally  of  an  equal 
Insignificancy,  not  of  consequence  enough  to  give 
either  a  Preference  :  But  Wilks  being  more  impatient 
of  his  low  Condition  than  I  was,  (and,  indeed,  the 
Company  was  then  so  well  stock'd  with  good  Actors 
that  there  was  very  little  hope  of  getting  forward) 
laid  hold  of  a  more  expeditious  way  for  his  Advance- 
ment, and  returned  agen  to  Dublin  with  Mr.  Ashbury, 
the  Patentee  of  that  Theatre,  to  act  in  his  new  Com- 
pany there  :  There  went  with  him  at  the  same  time 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  237 

Mrs.  Butler,  whose  Character  I  have  already  given, 
and  Estcourt,  who  had  not  appeared  on  any  Stage, 
and  was  yet  only  known  as  an  excellent  Mimick  : 
Wilks  having  no  Competitor  in  Dublin,  was  imme- 
diately preferr'd  to  whatever  parts  his  Inclination  led 
him,  and  his  early  Reputation  on  that  Stage  as  soon 
raised  in  him  an  Ambition  to  shew  himself  on  a 
better.  And  I  have  heard  him  say  (in  Raillery  of 
the  Vanity  which  young  Actors  are  liable  to)  that 
when  the  News  of  Monfort'?,  Death  came  to  h'cland, 
he  from  that  time  thought  his  Fortune  was  made, 
and  took  a  Resolution  to  return  a  second  time  to 
England  With,  the  first  Opportunity;  but  as  his  En- 
gagements to  the  Stage  where  he  was  were  too 
strong  to  be  suddenly  broke  from,  he  return'd  not  to 
the  T/ieatre-RoyartiW  the  Year  1696.^ 

Upon  his  first  Arrival,  Powel,  who  was  now  in 
Possession  of  all  the  chief  Parts  of  Monforl,  and  the 
only  Actor  that  stood  in  Wilks  s  way,  in  seeming 
Civility  offer'd  him  his  choice  of  whatever  he  thought 
fit  to  make  his  first  Appearance  in  ;  though,  in  reality, 
the  Favour  was  intended  to  hurt  him.  But  Wilks 
rightly  judg'd  it  more  modest  to  accept  only  of  a 
Part  of  Powel's,  and  which  Monfort  had  never 
acted,  that  of  Palamede  in  Dry  dens,  Marriage  Ala- 
mode.  Here,  too,  he  had  the  Advantage  of  having 
the  Ball  play'd  into  his  Hand  by  the  inimitable 
Mrs.  Monfort,  who  was  then  his  Melantha  in  the 
same  Play  :  Whatever  Fame  Wilks  had  brought 
'  See  note  on  page  235, 

238  THE    LIFE    OF 

with  him  from  Ireland,  he  as  yet  appear'd  but  a  very- 
raw  Actor  to  what  he  was  afterwards  allow'd  to  be  : 
His  Fauhs,  however,  I  shall  rather  leave  to  the 
Judgments  of  those  who  then  may  remember  him, 
than  to  take  upon  me  the  disagreeable  Office  of  being 
particular  upon  them,  farther  than  by  saying,  that  in 
this  Part  oiPalamede  he  was  short  of  Powel,  and  miss'd 
a  good  deal  of  the  loose  Humour  of  the  Character, 
which  the  other  more  happily  hit/  But  however  he 
was  young,  erect,  of  a  pleasing  Aspect,  and,  in  the 
whole,  gave  the  Town  and  the  Stage  sufficient  Hopes 
of  him.  I  ought  to  make  some  Allowances,  too,  for 
the  Restraint  he  must  naturally  have  been  under 
from  his  first  Appearance  upon  a  new  Stage.  But 
from  that  he  soon  recovered,  and  grew  daily  more 
in  Favour,  not  only  of  the  Town,  but  likewise  of 
the  Patentee,  whom  Powel,  before  Wilkss  Arrival, 
had  treated  in  almost  what  manner  he  pleas'd. 

Upon  this  visible  Success  of  Wilks,  the  pretended 
Contempt  which  Powel  had  held  him  in  began  to 
sour  into  an  open  Jealousy  ;  he  now  plainly  saw  he 
was  a  formidable  Rival,  and  (which  more  hurt  him) 
saw,  too,  that  other  People  saw  it ;  and  therefore 
found  it  high  time  to  oppose  and  be  troublesome  to 
him.     But   Wilks  happening  to  be  as  jealous  of  his 

^  "  The  Laureat,"  p.  44  :  "  Wilks,  in  this  Part  of  Palamede, 
behav'd  with  a  modest  Diffidence,  and  yet  maintain'd  the  Spirit  of 
his  Part."  The  author  says,  on  the  same  page,  that  Powel  never 
could  appear  a  Gentleman.  "  His  Conversation,  his  Manners,  his 
Dress,  neither  on  nor  off  the  Stage,  bore  any  Similitude  to  that 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  239 

Fame  as  the  other,  you  may  imagine  such  clashing 
Candidates  could  not  be  long  without  a  Rupture  :  In 
short,  a  Challenge,  I  very  well  remember,  came  from 
Powel^  when  he  was  hot-headed ;  but  the  next  Morn- 
ing he  was  cool  enough  to  let  it  end  in  favour  of 
Wilks.  Yet  however  the  Magnanimity  on  either 
Part  might  subside,  the  Animosity  was  as  deep  in 
the  Heart  as  ever,  tho'  it  was  not  afterwards  so 
openly  avow'd  :  For  when  Powel  found  that  intimi- 
dating would  not  carry  his  Point ;  but  that  Wilksy 
when  provok'd,  would  really  give  Battle,^  he  {Powel) 
grew  so  out  of  Humour  that  he  cock'd  his  Hat,  and 
in  his  Passion  walk'd  off  to  the  Service  of  the  Com- 
pany in  Lincoln  s-Inn  Fields.  But  there  finding 
more  Competitors,  and  that  he  made  a  worse  Figure 
among  them  than  in  the  Company  he  came  from,  he 
stay'd  but  one  Winter  with  them^  before  he  return'd 
to  his  old  Quarters  in  Drury-Lane ;  where,  after 
these  unsuccessful  Pushes  of  his  Ambition,  he  at  last 
became  a  Martyr  to  Negligence,  and  quietly  submitted 
to  the  Advantages  and  Superiority  which  (during  his 
late  Desertion)  Wilks  had  more  easily  got  over  him. 

^  "  The  Laureat,"  p.  44  :  "I  believe  he  (Wilks)  was  obliged  to 
fight  the  Heroic  George  Powel,  as  well  as  one  or  two  others,  who 
were  piqued  at  his  being  so  highly  encouraged  by  the  Town,  and 
their  Rival,  before  he  cou'd  be  quiet." 

*  Powell  seems  to  have  been  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  for  two 
seasons,  those  of  1702  and  1703,  and  for  part  of  a  third,  1703-4. 
He  returned  to  Drury  Lane  about  June,  1704.  For  the  arbitrary 
conduct  of  the  Lord  Chamberlain,  in  allowing  him  to  desert  to  Lin- 
coln's Inn  Fields  (or  the  Haymarket),  but  arresting  him  when  he 
deserted  back  again  to  Drury  Lane,  see  after,  in  Chap.  X. 


240  THE    LIFE    OF 

However  trifling  these  Theatrical  Anecdotes  may 
seem  to  a  sensible  Reader,  yet,  as  the  different  Con- 
duct of  these  rival  Actors  may  be  of  use  to  others  of 
the  same  Profession,  and  from  thence  may  contribute 
to  the  Pleasure  of  the  Publick,  let  that  be  my  Excuse 
for  pursuing  them.  I  must  therefore  let  it  be  known 
that,  though  in  Voice  and  Ear  Nature  had  been  more 
kind  to  Powel,  yet  he  so  often  lost  the  Value  of  them 
by  an  unheedful  Confidence,  that  the  constant  wake- 
ful Care  and  Decency  of  Wilks  left  the  other  far  be- 
hind in  the  publick  Esteem  and  Approbation.  Nor 
was  his  Memory  less  tenacious  than  that  of  Wilks ; 
but  Powel  put  too  much  Trust  in  it,  and  idly  deferred 
the  Studying  of  his  Parts,  as  School-boys  do  their 
Exercise,  to  the  last  Day,  which  commonly  brings 
them  out  proportionably  defective.  But  Wilks  never 
lost  an  Hour  of  precious  Time,  and  was,  in  all  his 
Parts,  perfect  to  such  an  Exactitude,  that  I  question 
if  in  forty  Years  he  ever  five  times  chang'd  or  mis- 
plac'd  an  Article  in  any  one  of  them.  To  be  Master 
of  this  uncommon  Diligence  is  adding  to  the  Gift  of 
Nature  all  that  is  in  an  Actor's  Power;  and  this 
Duty  of  Studying  perfect  whatever  Actor  is  remiss 
in,  he  will  proportionably  find  that  Nature  may  have 
been  kind  to  him  in  vain,  for  though  Powel  had  an 
Assurance  that  cover'd  this  Neglect  much  better  than 
a  Man  of  more  Modesty  might  have  done,  yet,  with 
all  his  Intrepidity,  very  often  the  Diffidence  and 
Concern  for  what  he  was  to  say  made  him  lose  the 
Look  of  what  he  was  to  be :  While,  therefore,  Powel 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  24 1 

presided,  his  idle  Example  made  this  Fault  so  com- 
mon to  others,  that  I  cannot  but  confess,  in  the  general 
Infection,  I  had  my  Share  of  it ;  nor  was  my  too 
critical  Excuse  for  it  a  good  one,  viz.  That  scarce 
one  Part  in  five  that  fell  to  my  Lot  was  worth  the 
Labour.  But  to  shew  Respect  to  an  Audience  is 
worth  the  best  Actor's  Labour,  and,  his  Business 
consider'd,  he  must  be  a  very  impudent  one  that 
comes  before  them  with  a  conscious  Negligence  of 
what  he  is  about.  ^  But  Wilks  was  never  known  to 
make  any  of  these  venial  Distinctions,  nor,  however 
barren  his  Part  might  be,  could  bear  even  the  Self- 
Reproach  of  favouring  his  Memory :  And  I  have 
been  astonished  to  see  him  swallow  a  Volume  of 
Froth  and  Insipidity  in  a  new  Play  that  we  were 

^  Gibber  is  here  somewhat  in  the  position  of  Satan  reproving 
sin,  if  Davies's  statements  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  480)  are  accurate. 
He  says  : — 

"  This  attention  to  the  gaming-table  would  not,  we  may  be  as- 
sured, render  him  [Gibber]  fitter  for  his  business  of  the  stage.  After 
many  an  unlucky  run  at  Tom's  Goffee-house  [in  Russell  Street], 
he  has  arrived  at  the  playhouse  in  great  tranquillity ;  and  then, 
humming  over  an  opera-tune,  he  has  walked  on  the  stage  not  well 
prepared  in  the  part  he  was  to  act.  Gibber  should  not  have 
reprehended  Powell  so  severely  for  neglect  and  imperfect  repre- 
sentation :  I  have  seen  him  at  fault  where  it  was  least  expected; 
in  parts  which  he  had  acted  a  hundred  times,  and  particularly  in 
Sir  Courtly  Nice ;  but  GoUey  dexterously  supplied  the  deficiency 
of  his  memory  by  prolonging  his  ceremonious  bow  to  the  lady,  and 
drawling  out  '  Your  humble  servant,  madam,'  to  an  extraordinary 
length ;  then  taking  a  pinch  of  snuff,  and  strutting  deliberately 
across  the  stage,  he  has  gravely  asked  the  prompter,  what  is 

242  THE    LIFE    OF 

sure  could  not  live  above  three  Days,  tho'  favour'd 
and  recommended  to  the  Stage  by  some  good  person 
of  Quality.  Upon  such  Occasions,  in  Compassion 
to  his  fruitless  Toil  and  Labour,  I  have  sometimes 

cry'd  out  with  Cato Painfzil  P res  eminence  !     So 

insupportable,  in  my  Sense,  was  the  Task,  when  the 
bare  Praise  of  not  havinsf  been  nep^lig-ent  was  sure  to 
be  the  only  Reward  of  it.  But  so  indefatigable  was 
the  Diligence  of  Wilks,  that  he  seem'd  to  love  it,  as 
a  good  Man  does  Virtue,  for  its  own  sake ;  of  which 
the  following  Instance  will  give  you  an  extraordinary 

In  some  new  Comedy  he  happen'd  to  complain  of 
a  crabbed  Speech  in  his  Part,  which,  he  said,  gave 
him  more  trouble  to  study  than  all  the  rest  of  it  had 
done ;  upon  which  he  apply'd  to  the  Author  either 
to  soften  or  shorten  it.  The  Author,  that  he  might 
make  the  Matter  quite  easy  to  him,  fairly  cut  it  all 
out.  But  when  he  got  home  from  the  Rehearsal, 
Wilks  thought  it  such  an  Indignity  to  his  Memory 
that  any  thing  should  be  thought  too  hard  for  it, 
that  he  actually  made  himself  perfect  in  that  Speech, 
though  he  knew  it  was  never  to  be  made  use  of. 
From  this  singular  Act  of  Supererogation  you  may 
judge  how  indefatigable  the  Labour  of  his  Memory 
must  have  been  when  his  Profit  and  Honour  were 
more  concern'd  to  make  use  of  it.^ 

^  " The  Laureat,"  p.  45  :  "I  have  known  him  (Wilks)  lay  a 
Wager  and  win  it,  that  he  wou'd  repeat  the  Part  of  Truewitt  in 
the  Silent   Woman^  which  consists  of  thirty  Lengths  of  Paper,  as 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  243 

But  besides  this  indispensable  Quality  of  Diligence, 
IVilks  had  the  Advantage  of  a  sober  Character  in 
private  Life,  which  Powel,  not  having  the  least  Regard 
to,  labour'd  under  the  unhappy  Disfavour,  not  to  say 
Contempt,  of  the  Publick,  to  whom  his  licentious 
Courses  were  no  Secret :  Even  when  he  did  well 
that  natural  Prejudice  pursu'd  him ;  neither  the 
Heroe  nor  the  Gentleman,  the  young  Ammon^  nor 
the  Dorimant^  could  conceal  from  the  conscious 
Spectator  the  True  George  Powel.  And  this  sort  of 
Disesteem  or  Favour  every  Actor  will  feel,  and, 
more  or  less,  have  his  Share  of,  as  he  has,  or  has  noty 
a  due  Regard  to  his  private  Life  and  Reputation. 
Nay,  even  false  Reports  shall  affect  him,  and  become 
the  Cause,  or  Pretence  at  least,  of  undervaluing  or 
treating  him  injuriously.  Let  me  give  a  known  In- 
stance of  it,  and  at  the  same  time  a  Justification  of 
myself  from  an  Imputation  that  was  laid  upon  me 
not  many  Years  before  I  quitted  the  Theatre,  of  which 
you  will  see  the  Consequence. 

After  the  vast  Success  of  that  new  Species  of  Dra- 
matick  Poetry,  the  Beggars  Opera^  The  Year  follow- 
ing I  was  so  stupid  as  to  attempt  something  of  the 
same  Kind,  upon  a  quite  different  Foundation,  that 

they  call  'em,  (that  is,  one  Quarter  of  a  Sheet  on  both  Sides  to  a 
Length)  without  misplacing  a  single  Word,  or  missing  an  {and^  or 
an  ipr)." 

^  Alexander  in  "  The  Rival  Queens." 

^  In  "The  Man  of  the  Mode  ;  or,  Sir  Fopling  Flutter." 

'  Produced  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  29th  January,  1728. 

244  THE    LIFE    OF 

of  recommending  Virtue  and  Innocence ;  which  I 
ignorantly  thought  might  not  have  a  less  Pretence 
to  Favour  than  setting  Greatness  and  Authority  in 
a  contemptible,  and  the  most  vulgar  Vice  and 
Wickedness,  in  an  amiable  Light.  But  behold  how 
fondly  I  was  mistaken  !  Love  in  a  Riddle^  (for  so 
my  new-fangled  Performance  was  called)  was  as 
vilely  damn'd  and  hooted  at  as  so  vain  a  Presumption 
in  the  idle  Cause  of  Virtue  could  deserve.     Yet  this 

^  "  Love  in  a  Riddle."  A  Pastoral.  Produced  at  Drury  Lane, 
7th  January,  1729. 

Arcas Mr.  Mills. 

.^GON Mr.  Harper. 

Amyntas Mr.  Williams. 

Iphis Mrs.  Thurmond. 

Philautus,  a  conceited  Corinthian  courtier  Mr.  Gibber. 

CoRYDON Mr.  Griffin. 

CiMON Mr.  Miller. 

Mopsus Mr.  Gates. 

Damon Mr.  Ray. 

Ianthe,  daughter  to  Arcas Mrs.  Gibber. 

Pastora,  daughter  to  JEgon Mrs.  Lindar. 

Phillida,  daughter  to  Gorydon     ....  Mrs.  Raftor. 

Mrs.  Raftor  (at  this  time  Miss  was  not  generally  used)  was 
afterwards  the  famous  Mrs.  Glive.  Ghetwood,  in  his  "History  of 
the  Stage,"  1 749  (p.  128),  says  :  "  I  remember  the  first  night  of  Love 
in  a  Riddle  (which  was  murder'd  in  the  same  Year)  a  Pastoral 
Opera  wrote  by  the  Lanreat,  which  the  Hydra-headed  Multitude 
resolv'd  to  worry  without  hearing,  a  Gustom  with  Authors  of  Merit, 
when  Miss  Raftor  came  on  in  the  part  of  Phillida,  the  monstrous 
Roar  subsided.  A  Person  in  the  Stage-Box,  next  to  my  Post, 
called  out  to  his  Gompanion  in  the  following  elegant  Style — 
'  Zounds !  Tom  /  take  Gare  !  or  this  charming  little  Devil  will 
save  all.' "     Ghetwood's  "  Post  "  was  that  of  Prompter. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  245 

Is  not  what  I  complain  of ;  I  will  allow  my  Poetry 
to  be  as  much  below  the  other  as  Taste  or  Criticism 
can  sink  it :  I  will  grant  likewise  that  the  applauded 
Author  of  the  Beggars  Opera  (whom  I  knew  to  be 
an  honest  good-natur'd  Man,  and  who,  when  he  had 
descended  to  write  more  like  one.  In  the  Cause  of 
Virtue,  had  been  as  unfortunate  as  others  of  that 
Class  ;)  I  will  grant,  I  say,  that  In  his  Beggars  Opera 
he  had  more  skilfully  gratlfy'd  the  Publick  Taste 
than  all  the  brightest  Authors  that  ever  writ  before 
him  ;  and  I  have  sometimes  thought,  from  the 
Modesty  of  his  Motto,  Nos  hcsc  novimus  esse  nihil^ 
that  he  gave  them  that  Performance  as  a  Satyr  upon 
the  Depravity  of  their  Judgment  (as  Ben.  Johnsoji  of 
old  was  said  to  give  his  Bai^holomew-Fair  In  Ridi- 
cule of  the  vulgar  Taste  which  had  disliked  his 
Sejanus^)  and  that,  by  artfully  seducing  them  to  be 
the  Champions  of  the  Immoralities  he  himself  detested, 
he  should  be  amply  reveng'd  on  their  former  Severity 
and  Ignorance.  This  were  Indeed  a  Triumph  !  which 
even  the  Author  of  Cato  might  have  envy'd,  Cato  ! 
'tis  true,  succeeded,  but  reach'd  not,  by  full  forty  Days, 
the  Progress  and  Applauses  of  the  Beggars  Opera. 
Will  It,  however,  admit  of  a  Question,  which  of  the 
two  Compositions  a  good  Writer  would  rather  wish 
to  have  been  the  Author  of?  Yet,  on  the  other 
side,  must  we  not  allow  that  to  have  taken  a  whole 
Nation,  High  and  Low,  into   a  general   Applause, 

^  Martial,  xiii.  2,  8. 

^  Gibber  should  have  written  Catiline. 

246  THE    LIFE    OF 

has  shown  a  Power  in  Poetry  which,  though  often 
attempted  in  the  same  kind,  none  but  this  one 
Author  could  ever  yet  arrive  at  ?  By  what  Rule, 
then,  are  we  to  judge  of  our  true  National  Taste  ? 
But  to  keep  a  little  closer  to  my  Point, 

The  same  Author  the  next  Year  had,  according 
to  the  Laws  of  the  Land,  transported  his  Heroe  to 
the  West- Indies  in  a  Second  Part  to  the  Beggars 
Opej'a\^  but  so  it  happen'd,  to  the  Surprize  of  the 
Publick,  this  Second  Part  was  forbid  to  come  upon 
the  Stage !  Various  were  the  Speculations  upon  this 
act  of  Power  :  Some  thought  that  the  Author,  others 
that  the  Town,  was  hardly  dealt  with  ;  a  third  sort, 
who  perhaps  had  envy'd  him  the  Success  of  his  first 
Part,  affirm'd,  when  it  was  printed,  that  whatever  the 
Intention  might  be,  the  Fact  was  in  his  Favour,  that 
he  had  been  a  greater  Gainer  by  Subscriptions  to  his 
Copy  than  he  could  have  been  by  a  bare  Theatrical 
Presentation.  Whether  any  Part  of  these  Opinions 
were  true  I  am  not  concerned  to  determine  or  con- 
sider. But  how  they  affected  me  I  am  going  to  tell 
you.  Soon  after  this  Prohibition,^  my  Performance 
was  to  come  upon  the  Stage,  at  a  time  when  many 

^  This  second  part  was  called  "  Polly."  In  his  Preface  Gay 
gives  an  account  of  its  being  vetoed.  The  prohibition  undoubtedly 
was  in  revenge  for  the  political  satire  in  "The  Beggar's  Opera." 
"Polly"  was  published  by  subscription,  and  probably  brought  the 
author  more  in  that  way  than  its  production  would  have  done.  It 
was  played  for  the  first  time  at  the  Haymarket,  19th  June,  1777. 
It  is,  as  Genest  says,  miserably  inferior  to  the  first  part. 

^  "Polly"  was  officially  prohibited  on  12th  December,  172S. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  247 

People  were  out  of  Humour  at  the  late  Disappoint- 
ment, and  seem'd  willing  to  lay  hold  of  any  Pretence 
of  making  a  Reprizal.     Great  Umbrage  was  taken 
that  I  was  permitted  to  have  the  whole  Town  to  my 
self,  by  this  absolute  Forbiddance  of  what  they  had 
more   mind  to  have  been   entertain'd  with.     And, 
some  few  Days  before  my  Bawble  was  acted,  I  was 
inform'd  that  a  strong  Party  would  be  made  against 
it :    This  Report  I  slighted,  as  not  conceiving  why 
it  should  be  true  ;  and  when  I  was  afterwards  told 
what  was  the  pretended  Provocation  of  this  Party,  I 
slighted  it  still  more,  as  having  less  Reason  to  sup- 
pose any  Persons  could  believe  me  capable  (had  I 
had  the  Power)  of  giving  such  a  Provocation.     The 
Report,  it  seems,  that  had  run  against  me  was  this  : 
That,  to  make  way  for  the  Success  of  my  own  Play, 
I  had  privately  found  means,  or  made  Interest,  that 
the  Second   Part  of  the   Beggars   Opera  might  be 
suppressed.     What  an  involuntary  Compliment  did 
the  Reporters  of  this  falshood  make  me  ?  to  suppose 
me  of  Consideration  enough  to  Influence   a  great 
Officer  of  State  to  gratify  the  Spleen  or  Envy  of  a 
Comedian  so  far  as  to  rob  the  Publick  of  an  inno- 
cent Diversion  (if  it  were  such)  that  none  but  that 
cunning   Comedian    might    be   suffered    to    give   it 
them.^     This  is  so  very  gross  a  Supposition  that  it 

^  I  know  only  one  case  in  which  a  new  piece  is  said  to  have 
been  prohibited  because  the  other  house  was  going  to  play  one  on 
the  same  subject.  This  is  Swiney's  "Quacks;  or,  Love's  the 
Physician,"  produced  at  Drury  Lane  on  18th  March,  1705,  after 

248  THE    LIFE    OF 

needs  only  Its  own  senseless  Face  to  confound  it ; 
let  that  alone,  then,  be  my  Defence  against  it.  But 
against  blind  Malice  and  staring  inhumanity  what- 
ever is  upon  the  Stage  has  no  Defence !  There 
they  knew  I  stood  helpless  and  expos'd  to  whatever 
they  might  please  to  load  or  asperse  me  with.  I  had 
not  considered,  poor  Devil !  that  from  the  Security 
of  a  full  Pit  Dunces  might  be  Criticks,  Cowards 
valiant,  and  'Prentices  Gentlemen!  Whether  any 
such  were  concern'd  in  the  Murder  of  my  Play  I  am 
not  certain,  for  I  never  endeavour'd  to  discover  any 
one  of  Its  Assassins ;  I  cannot  afford  them  a  milder 
Name,  from  their  unmanly  manner  of  destroying  it. 
Had  it  been  heard,  they  might  have  left  me  nothing 
to  say  to  them  :  'Tis  true  It  faintly  held  up  its 
wounded  Head  a  second  Day,  and  would  have  spoke 
for  Mercy,  but  was  not  suffer'd.  Not  even  the  Pre- 
sence of  a  Royal  Heir  apparent  could  protect  it. 
But  then  I  was  reduced  to  be  serious  with  them  ; 
their  Clamour  then  became  an  Insolence,  which  I 
thought  it  my  Duty  by  the  Sacrifice  of  any  Interest 
of  my  own  to  put  an  end  to.  I  therefore  quitted  the 
Actor  for  the  Author,  and,  stepping  forward  to  the 
Pit,  told  them,  That  since  I  found  they  zmre  not 
inclind  that  this  Play  should  go  forward,  I  gave  theiJi 
77ty  Word  that  after  this  Night  it  should  never  be 
acted  agen :  But  that,  in  the  mean  time,  I  hop'd  they 
would  consider  in  whose  Presence  they  were,  and  for 

being  twice  vetoed.  Swiney  in  his  Preface  gives  the  above  as  the 
reason  for  the  prohibition. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  249 

that  Reason  at  least  would  suspend  what  farther 
Marks  of  their  Displeasttre  they  might  imagine  I  had 
deserved.  At  this  there  was  a  dead  Silence ;  and 
after  some  little  Pause,  a  few  civiliz'd  Hands  signify'd 
their  Approbation.  When  the  Play  went  on,  I  ob- 
serv'd  about  a  Dozen  Persons  of  no  extraordinary 
Appearance  sullenly  walk'd  out  of  the  Pit.  After 
which,  every  Scene  of  it,  while  uninterrupted,  met 
with  more  Applause  than  my  best  Hopes  had  ex- 
pected. But  it  came  too  late  :  Peace  to  its  Ma7ies  ! 
I  had  given  my  Word  It  should  fall,  and  I  kept  it  by 
giving  out  another  Play  for  the  next  Day,  though  I 
knew  the  Boxes  were  all  lett  for  the  same  aorain. 
Such,  then,  was  the  Treatment  I  met  with :  How 
much  of  it  the  Errors  of  the  Play  might  deserve  I 
refer  to  the  Judgment  of  those  who  may  have  Curio- 
sity and  idle  time  enough  to  read  it.^  But  if  I  had 
no  occasion  to  complain  of  the  Reception  it  met  with 
from  Its  qicieted  Audience,  sure  It  can  be  no  great 
Vanity  to  Impute  Its  Disgraces  chiefly  to  that  severe 
Resentment  which  a  groundless  Report  of  me  had 
Inflam'd  :  Yet  those  Disgraces  have  left  me  some- 
thing to  boast  of,  an  Honour  preferable  even  to  the 
Applause  of  my  Enemies :  A  noble  Lord  came 
behind  the  Scenes,  and  told  me,  from  the  Box,  where 
he  was  in  waiting,  That  what  I  said  to  qniet  the 
Audience  was  extremely  well  taken  there  ;  and  that  I 
had  been  commended  for  it  in  a  veiy  obligiiig  manner. 

^  Gibber  afterwards  formed  the  best   scenes   of  "  Love  in  a 
Riddle  "  into  a  Ballad  Opera,  called  "  Damon  and  Phillida." 

250  THE    LIFE    OF 

Now,  though  this  was  the  only  Tumult  that  I  have 
known  to  have  been  so  effectually  appeas'd  these 
fifty  Years  by  any  thing  that  could  be  said  to  an 
Audience  in  the  same  Humour,  I  will  not  take  any 
great  Merit  to  myself  upon  it ;  because  when,  like  me, 
you  will  but  humbly  submit  to  their  doing  you  all 
the  Mischief  they  can,  they  will  at  any  time  be 

I  have  mention'd  this  particular  Fact  to  inforce 
what  I  before  observ'd.  That  the  private  Character 
of  an  Actor  will  always  more  or  less  affect  his 
Publick  Performance.  And  if  I  suffer'd  so  much 
from  the  bare  Stispicion  of  my  having  been  guilty  of 
a  base  Action,  what  should  not  an  Actor  expect  that 
is  hardy  enough  to  think  his  whole  private  Character 
of  no  consequence  ?  I  could  offer  many  more,  tho' 
less  severe  Instances  of  the  same  Nature.  I  have 
seen  the  most  tender  Sentiment  of  Love  in  Tragedy 
create  Laughter,  instead  of  Compassion,  when  it 
has  been  applicable  to  the  real  Engagements  of  the 
Person  that  utter'd  it.  I  have  known  good  Parts 
thrown  up,  from  an  humble  Consciousness  that  some- 
thing in  them  might  put  an  Audience  in  mind  of — 
what  was  rather  wish'd  might  be  forgotten  :  Those  re- 
markable Words  of  Evad7ie,  in  the  Maid's  Tragedy — 
A  Maidenhead,  Amintor,  at  my  Years  ? — have  some- 
times been  a  much  stronger  Jest  for  being  a  true 
one.  But  these  are  Reproaches  which  in  all  Nations 
the  Theatre  must  have  been  us'd  to,  unless  we  could 
suppose  Actors  something  more  than  Human  Crea- 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  25  I 

tures,  void  of  Faults  or  Frailties.  'Tis  a  Misfortune 
at  least  not  limited  to  the  English  Stage.  I  have 
seen  the  better-bred  Audience  In  Pat-is  made  merry- 
even  with  a  modest  Expression,  when  It  has  come 
from  the  Mouth  of  an  Actress  whose  private  Cha- 
racter It  seem'd  not  to  belong  to.  The  Apprehension 
of  these  kind  of  Fleers  from  the  Witlings  of  a  Pit 
has  been  carry'd  so  far  In  our  own  Country,  that  a 
late  valuable  Actress^  (who  was  conscious  her  Beauty 
was  not  her  greatest  Merit)  desired  the  Warmth  of 
some  Lines  might  be  abated  when  they  have  made 
her  too  remarkably  handsome  :  But  in  this  Discre- 
tion she  was  alone,  few  others  were  afraid  of  unde- 
serving the  finest  things  that  could  be  said  to  them. 
But  to  consider  this  Matter  seriously,  I  cannot  but 
think,  at  a  Play,  a  sensible  Auditor  would  contribute 
all  he  could  to  his  being  well  deceiv'd,  and  not  suffer 
his  Imagination  so  far  to  wander  from  the  well-acted 
Character  before  him,  as  to  gratify  a  frivolous  Spleen 
by  Mocks  or  personal  Sneers  on  the  Performer,  at 
the  Expence  of  his  better  Entertainment.  But  I 
must  now  take  up  Wilks  and  Powel  again  where  I 
left  them.  - ' 

Though  the  Contention  for  Superiority  between 

^  Bellchambers  notes  that  this  was  probably  Mrs.  Oldfield. 
But  I  think  this  more  than  doubtful,  for  this  lady  not  only  was 
fair,  but  also,  as  Touchstone  says,  "had  the  gift  to  know  it."  It 
is,  of  course,  impossible  to  say  decidedly  to  whom  Gibber  re- 
ferred ;  but  I  fancy  that  Mrs.  Barry  is  the  actress  who  best  fulfils 
the  conditions,  though,  of  course,  I  must  admit  that  her  having 
been  dead  for  a  quarter  of  a  century  weakens  my  case. 

252  THE    LIFE    OF 

them  seem'd  about  this  time  to  end  in  favour  of  the 
former,  yet  the  Distress  of  the  Patentee  (in  having 
his  Servant  his  Master,  as  Powcl  had  lately  been), 
was  not  much  reliev'd  by  the  Victory  ;  he  had  only 
chang'd  the  Man,  but  not  the  Malady  :  For  Wilks, 
by  being  in  Possession  of  so  many  good  Parts,  fell 
into  the  common  Error  of  most  Actors,  that  of  over- 
rating their  Merit,  or  never  thinking  it  is  so  tho- 
roughly consider'd  as  it  ought  to  be,  which  generally 
makes  them  proportionably  troublesome  to  the 
Master,  who  they  might  consider  only  pays  them  to 
profit  by  them.  The  Patentee  therefore  found  it  as 
difficult  to  satisfy  the  continual  Demands  of  Wilks 
as  it  was  dangerous  to  refuse  them ;  very  few  were 
made  that  were  not  granted,  and  as  few  were  granted 
as  were  not  grudg'd  him  :  Not  but  our  good  Master 
was  as  sly  a  Tyrant  as  ever  was  at  the  Head  of  a 
Theatre  ;  for  he  gave  the  Actors  more  Liberty,  and 
fewer  Days  Pay,  than  any  of  his  Predecessors  :  He 
would  laugh  with  them  over  a  Bottle,  and  bite^  them 
in  their  Bargains :  He  kept  them  poor,  that  they  might 
not  be  able  to  rebel ;  and  sometimes  merry,  that  they 
might  not  think  of  it  :  All  their  Articles  of  Agree- 
ment had  a  Clause  in  them  that  he  was  sure  to  creep 
out  at,  viz.  Their  respective  Sallaries  were  to  be  paid 
in  such  manner  and  proportion  as  others  of  the  same 

^  A  "  bite  "  is  what  we  now  term  a  "  sell."  In  "The  Spectator," 
Nos.  47  and  504,  some  account  of  "  Biters  "  is  given  :  "a  Race 
of  Men  that  are  perpetually  employed  in  laughing  at  those  Mis- 
takes Nvhich  are  of  their  own  Production." 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  253 

Company  were  paid  ;  which  in  effect  made  them  all, 
when  he  pleas'd,  but  limited  Sharers  of  Loss,  and 
himself  sole.  Proprietor  of  Profits  ;  and  this  Loss  or 
Profit  they  only  had  such  verbal  Accounts  of  as  he 
thought  proper  to  give  them.  'Tis  true,  he  would 
sometimes  advance  them  Money  (but  not  more  than 
he  knew  at  most  could  be  due  to  them)  upon  their 
Bonds ;  upon  which,  whenever  they  were  mutinous, 
he  would  threaten  to  sue  them.  This  was  the  Net 
we  danc'd  in  for  several  Years  :  But  no  wonder  we 
were  Dupes,  while  our  Master  was  a  Lawyer.  This 
Grievance,  however,  Wilks  was  resolv'd,  for  himself 
at  least,  to  remedy  at  any  rate  ;  and  grew  daily  more 
intractable,  for  every  Day  his  Redress  was  delay'd. 
Here  our  Master  found  himself  under  a  Difficulty 
he  knew  not  well  how  to  get  out  of :  For  as  he  was 
a  close  subtle  Man,  he  seldom  made  use  of  a  Con- 
fident in  his  Schemes  of  Government  :  ^  But  here 
the  old  Expedient  of  Delay  would  stand  him  in  no 
longer  stead ;  Wilks  must  instantly  be  comply' d 
with,  or  Powel  come  again  into  Power  !  In  a  word, 
he  was  push'd  so  home,  that  he  was  reduc'd  even  to 
take  my  Opinion  into  his  Assistance  :  For  he  knew 
I  was  a  Rival  to  neither  of  them  ;  perhaps,  too,  he 
had  fancy'd  that,  from  the  Success  of  my  first  Play, 
I  might  know  as  much  of  the  Stage,  and  what  made 
an  Actor  valuable,  as  either  of  them  :  He  saw,  too, 
that  tho'  they  had  each  of  them  five  good  Parts  to 
my  one,  yet  the  Applause  which  in  my  few  I  had 
'  This  is  a  capital  sketch  of  Christopher  Rich. 

254  THE    LIFE    OF 

met  with,  was  given  me  by  better  Judges  than  as 
yet  had  approv'd  of  the  best  they  had  done.  They 
generally  measured  the  goodness  of  a  Part  by  the 
Quantity  or  Length  of  it :  I  thought  none  bad  for 
being  short  that  were  closely-natural ;  nor  any  the 
better  for  being  long,  without  that  valuable  Quality. 
But  in  this,  I  doubt,  as  to  their  Interest,  they  judg'd 
better  than  myself;  for  I  have  generally  observ'd 
that  those  who  do  a  great  deal  not  ill,  have  been 
preferr'd  to  those  who  do  but  little,  though  never  so 
masterly.  And  therefore  I  allow  that,  while  there 
were  so  few  good  Parts,  and  as  few  good  Judges  of 
them,  it  ought  to  have  been  no  Wonder  to  me,  that 
as  an  Actor  I  was  less  valued  by  the  Master  or  the 
common  People  than  either  of  them :  All  the  Advan- 
tage I  had  of  them  was,  that  by  not  being  trouble- 
some I  had  more  of  our  Master's  personal  Inclina- 
tion than  any  Actor  of  the  male  Sex ;  ^  and  so  much 
of  it,  that  I  was  almost  the  only  one  whom  at  that 
time  he  us'd  to  take  into  his  Parties  of  Pleasure ; 
very  often  tete  a  tete,  and  sometimes  in  a  Partie 
qua7Tee.  These  then  were  the  Qualifications,  how- 
ever good  or  bad,  to  which  may  be  imputed  our 
Master's  having  made  choice  of  me  to  assist  him  in 
the  Difficulty  under  which  he  now  labour'd.     He 

^  Gibber's  hint  of  Rich's  weakness  for  the  fair  sex  is  corroborated 
by  the  "Comparison  between  the  two  Stages,"  page  i6 :  "  Critick. 
He  is  Monarch  of  the  Stage,  tho'  he  knows  not  how  to  govern  one 
Province  in  his  Dominion,  but  that  of  Signing,  Sealing,  and  some- 
thing else,  that  shall  be  nameless." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  255 

was  himself  sometimes  inclin'd  to  set  up  Powel  again 
as  a  Check  upon  the  over-bearing  Temper  of  Wilks : 
Tho'  to  say  truth,  he  Hk'd  neither  of  them,  but  was 
still  under  a  Necessity  that  one  of  them  should 
preside,  tho'  he  scarce  knew  which  of  the  two  Evils 
to  chuse.  This  Question,  when  I  happen'd  to  be 
alone  with  him,  was  often  debated  in  our  Evening 
Conversation  ;  nor,  indeed,  did  I  find  it  an  easy 
matter  to  know  which  Party  I  ought  to  recommend 
to  his  Election.  I  knew  they  were  neither  of  them 
Well-wishers  to  me,  as  in  common  they  were 
Enemies  to  most  Actors  in  proportion  to  the  Merit 
that  seem'd  to  be  rising  in  them.  But  as  I  had  the 
Prosperity  of  the  Stage  more  at  Heart  than  any 
other  Consideration,  I  could  not  be  long  undeter- 
mined in  my  Opinion,  and  therefore  gave  it  to  our 
Master  at  once  in  Favour  of  Wilks.  I,  with  all  the 
Force  I  could  muster,  insisted,  "  That  li  Powcl  wQr& 
*'  preferr'd,  the  ill  Example  of  his  Negligence  and 
"  abandon'd  Character  (whatever  his  Merit  on  the 
"  Stage  might  be)  would  reduce  our  Company  to 
"  Contempt  and  Beggary;  observing,  at  the  same 
"  time,  in  how  much  better  Order  our  Affairs  went 
*'  forward  since  Wilks  came  among  us,  of  which  I 
"  recounted  several  Instances  that  are  not  so  neces- 
"  sary  to  tire  my  Reader  with.  All  this,  though  he 
"  allow'd  to  be  true,  yet  Powel,  he  said,  was  a  better 
"  Actor  than  Wilks  when  he  minded  his  Business 
"  (that  is  to  say,  when  he  was,  what  he  seldom  was, 
"  sober).     But  Pozucl,  it  seems,  had  a   still  greater 


256  THE    LIFE    OF 

"  Merit  to  him,  which  was,  (as  he  observ'd)  that 
"  when  Affairs  were  in  his  Hands,  he  had  kept  the 
"  Actors  quiet,  without  one  Day's  Pay,  for  six 
"  Weeks  together,  and  it  was  not  every  body  could 
"  do  that ;  for  you  see,  said  he,  PVi/ks  will  never  be 
"  easy  unless  I  give  him  his  whole  Pay,  when  others 
"  have  it  not,  and  what  an  Injustice  would  that  be 
"  to  the  rest  if  I  were  to  comply  with  him  ?  How 
"  do  I  know  but  then  they  may  be  all  in  a  Mutiny, 
"  and  mayhap  (that  was  his  Expression)  with  Powel 
"  at  the  Head  of  'em  ?"  By  this  Specimen  of  our 
Debate,  It  may  be  judg'd  under  how  particular  and 
merry  a  Government  the  Theatre  then  labour'd. 
To  conclude,  this  Matter  ended  in  a  Resolution  to 
sign  a  new  Agreement  with  Wilks,  which  entitled 
him  to  his  full  Pay  of  four  Pounds  a  Week  without 
any  conditional  Deductions.  How  far  soever  my 
Advice  might  have  contributed  to  our  Master's  settling 
his  Affairs  upon  this  Foot,  I  never  durst  make  the 
least  Merit  of  it  to  Wilks,  well  knowing  that  his 
ereat  Heart  would  have  taken  it  as  a  mortal  Affront 
had  I  (tho'  never  so  distantly)  hinted  that  his 
Demands  had  needed  any  Assistance  but  the  Jus- 
tice of  them.  From  this  time,  then,  Wilks  became 
first  Minister,  or  Bustle-master-general  of  the  Com- 
pany.^      He  now   seem'd  to  take  new  Delight  in 

^  "The  Laureat,"  p.  48  :  "  If  Minister  Wilks  was  now  alive  to 
hear  thee  prate  thus,  Mr.  Bayes,  I  would  not  give  one  Half-penny 
for  thy  Ears ;  but  if  he  were  alive,  thou  durst  not  for  thy  Ears 
rattle  on  in  this  affected  MatcJiiavilian  stile." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  257 

keeping  the  Actors  close  to  their  Business,  and  got 
every  Play  reviv'd  with  Care  in  which  he  had  acted 
the  chief  Part   in  Dtiblm  :  'Tis  true,  this  might  be 
done  with  a  particular  View  of  setting  off  himself  to 
Advantage ;  but  if  at  the  same  time  it  served  the 
Company,  he  ought  not  to  want  our  Commendation : 
Now,  tho'  my  own  Conduct  neither  had  the  Appear- 
ance of  his  Merit,  nor  the  Reward  that  follow'd  his 
Industry,  I  cannot  help  observing  that  it  shew'd  me, 
to  the  best  of  my  Power,  a  more  cordial  Common- 
wealth's Man  :    His  first  Views   in  serving  himself 
made   his    Service  to  the  whole  but  an  incidental 
Merit ;  whereas,  by   my  prosecuting  the  Means  to 
make  him  easy  in  his  Pay,  unknown  to  him,  or  with- 
out asking  any  Favour  for  my  self  at  the  same  time, 
I  gave  a  more  unquestionable  Proof  of  my  preferring 
the  Publick  to  my  Private  Interest :  From  the  same 
Principle  I  never  murmur'd  at  whatever  little  Parts 
fell  to  my  Share,  and  though  I  knew  it  would  not 
recommend    me   to    the    Favour   of   the    common 
People,   I  often  submitted  to   play  wicked  Charac- 
ters  rather  than    they   should  be    worse    done    by 
weaker  Actors  than  my  self:  But  perhaps,  in  all  this 
Patience  under  my  Situation,  I  supported  my  Spirits 
by  a   conscious  Vanity  :  For  I  fancied  I  had  more 
Reason  to  value  myself  upon  being  sometimes  the 
Confident  and  Companion  of  our  Master,  than  Wilks 
had  in  all  the  more  publick  Favours  he  had  extorted 
from  him.      I  imagined,  too,  there  was  sometimes  as 
much  Skill  to  be  shewn  in  a  short   Part,  as  in  the 

258  THE    LIFE    OF 

most  voluminous,  which  he  generally  made  choice 
of;  that  even  the  coxcombly  Follies  of  a  '^vc John 
Daw  might  as  well  distinguish  the  Capacity  of  an 
Actor,  as  all  the  dry  Enterprizes  and  busy  Conduct 
of  a  Truewit}  Nor  could  I  have  any  Reason  to 
repine  at  the  Superiority  he  enjoy'd,  when  I  con- 
sider'd  at  how  dear  a  Rate  it  was  purchased,  at  the 
continual  Expence  of  a  restless  Jealousy  and  fretful 

Impatience These   were    the   Passions   that,  in 

the  height  of  his  Successes,  kept  him  lean  to  his  last 
Hour,  while  what  I  wanted  in  Rank  or  Glory  was 
amply  made  up  to  me  in  Ease  and  Chearfulness. 
But  let  not  this  Observation  either  lessen  his  Merit 
or  lift  up  my  own;  since  our  different  Tempers  were 
not  in  our  Choice,  but  equally  natural  to  both  of  us. 
To  be  employ'd  on  the  Stage  was  the  Delight  of 
his  Life;  to  be  justly  excused  from  it  was  the  Joy 
of  mine  :  I  lov'd  Ease,  and  he  Pre-eminence  :  In 
that,  he  might  be  more  commendable.  Tho'  he 
often  disturb'd  me,  he  seldom  could  do  it  without 
more  disordering  himself:^  In  our  Disputes,  his 
Warmth  could  less  bear  Truth  than  I  could  support 
manifest  Injuries  :  He  would  hazard  our  Undoing 
to  gratify  his   Passions,   tho'   otherwise   an    honest 

^  Characters  in  Ben  Jonson's  "  Silent  Woman." 
■^  "The  Laureat,"  p.  49  :  "  Did  you  not,  by  your  general  Mis- 
behaviour towards  Authors  and  Actors,  bring  an  Odium  on  your 
Brother  Menagers,  as  well  as  yourself;  and  were  not  these,  with 
many  others,  the  Reasons,  that  sometimes  gave  Occasion  to  IVilks, 
to  chastise  you,  with  his  Tongue  only." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  259 

Man  ;  and  I  rather  chose  to  give  up  my  Reason,  or 
not  see  my  Wrong,  than  ruin  our  Community  by  an 
equal  Rashness.  By  this  opposite  Conduct  our 
Accounts  at  the  End  of  our  Labours  stood  thus  : 
While  he  lived  he  was  the  elder  Man,  when  he  died 
he  was  not  so  old  as  I  am :  He  never  left  the  Staee 
till  he  left  the  World :  I  never  so  well  enjoy'd  the 
World  as  when  I  left  the  Stage:  He  died  in  Posses- 
sion of  his  Wishes;  and  I,  by  having  had  a  less 
cholerick  Ambition,  am  still  tasting  mine  in  Health 
and  Liberty.  But  as  he  in  a  great  measure  wore 
out  the  Organs  of  Life  in  his  incessant  Labours  to 
gratify  the  Publick,  the  Many  whom  he  gave  Plea- 
sure to  will  always  owe  his  Memory  a  favourable 
Report — Some  Facts  that  will  vouch  for  the  Truth 
of  this  Account  will  be  found  in  the  Sequel  of  these 
Memoirs.  If  I  have  spoke  with  more  Freedom  of 
his  quondam  Competitor  Powel,  let  my  good  Inten- 
tions to  future  Actors,  in  shewing  what  will  so  much 
concern  them  to  avoid,  be  my  Excuse  for  it  :  For 
though  Powel  had  from  Nature  much  more  than 
Wilks ;  in  Voice  and  Ear,  in  Elocution  in  Tragedy, 
and  Humour  in  Comedy,  greatly  the  Advantage  of 
him  ;  yet,  as  I  have  observ'd,  from  the  Neglect  and 
Abuse  of  those  valuable  Gifts,  he  suffer'd  Wilks  to 
be  of  thrice  the  Service  to  our  Society.  Let  me 
give  another  Instance  of  the  Reward  and  Favour 
which,  in  a  Theatre,  Diligence  and  Sobriety  seldom 
fail  of:  Mills  the  elder  '  grew  into  the  Friendship  of 
^  See  memoir  of  John  Mills  at  end  of  second  volume. 

2  6o  THE    LIFE    OF 

Wilks  with  not  a  great  deal  more  than  those  useful 
Qualities  to  recommend  him  :  He  was  an  honest, 
quiet,  careful  Man,  of  as  few  Faults  as  Excellencies, 
and  Wilks  rather  chose  him  for  his  second  in  many 
Plays,  than  an  Actor  of  perhaps  greater  Skill  that 
was  not  so  laboriously  diligent.  And  from  this  con- 
stant Assiduity,  Mills,  with  making  to  himself  a 
Friend  in  Wilks,  was  advanced  to  a  larger  Sallary 
than  any  Man-Actor  had  enjoy'd  during  my  time 
on  the  Stage/  I  have  yet  to  offer  a  more  happy 
Recommendation  of  Temperance,  which  a  late  cele- 
brated Actor  was  warn'd  into  by  the  mis-conduct  of 
Powel.  About  the  Year  that  Wilks  return'd  from 
Dublin,  Booth,  who  had  commenced  Actor  upon  that 
Theatre,  came  over  to  the  Company  in  Lincolns- Inn- 
Fields  :^  He  was  then  but  an  Under- graduate  of 
the  Buskin,  and,  as  he  told  me  himself,  had  been  for 
some  time  too  frank  a  Lover  of  the  Bottle;  but 
having  had  the  Happiness  to  observe  into  what 
Contempt  and  Distresses  Powel  had  plung'd  himself 
by  the  same  Vice,  he  was  so  struck  with  the  Terror 
of  his  Example,  that  he  fix'd  a  Resolution  (which 

'  John  Mills,  in  the  advertisement  issued  by  Rich,  in  1709,  in 
the  course  of  a  dispute  with  his  actors,  is  stated  to  have  a  salary 
of  "  J[,df  a  week  for  himself,  and  J[^x  a  week  for  his  wife,  for  little 
or  nothing."  This  advertisement  is  quoted  by  me  in  Chap.  XII. 
Mills's  salary  was  the  same  as  Betterton's.  No  doubt  Gibber, 
Wilks,  Dogget,  and  Booth  had  ultimately  larger  salaries,  but  they, 
of  course,  were  managers  as  well  as  actors. 

^  Booth  seems  to  have  joined  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  Com- 
pany in  1700. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  26 1 

from  that  time  to  the  End  of  his  Days  he  strictly 
observ'd)  of  utterly  reforming  it ;  an  uncommon  Act 
of  Philosophy  in  a  young  Man  !  of  which  in  his 
Fame  and  Fortune  he  afterwards  enjoy 'd  the  Re- 
ward and  Benefit.  These  Observations  I  have  not 
merely  thrown  together  as  a  Moralist,  but  to  prove 
that  the  briskest  loose  Liver  or  intemperate  Man 
(though  Morality  were  out  of  the  Question)  can 
never  arrive  at  the  necessary  Excellencies  of  a  good 
or  useful  Actor. 


The  Patentee  of  Drury-Lane  wiser  than  his  Actors.  His  particular 
Menagemefit.  The  Author  continues  to  write  Plays.  Why. 
The  best  dramatick  Poets  censured  by  J.  Collier,  in  his  Short  View 
of  the  Stage.  //  has  a  good  Effect.  The  Master  of  the  Revels^ 
from  that  time,  cautious  in  his  licensing  new  Plays.  A  Complaint 
against  him.  His  Atithority  founded  upon  Custom  only.  The 
late  Law  for  fixiyig  that  Authority  i?i  a  proper  Person,  cofisidered. 

THOUGH  the  Master  of  our  Theatre  had  no 
Conception  himself  of  Theatrical  Merit  either 
in  Authors  or  Actors,  yet  his  Judgment  was 
govern'd  by  a  saving  Rule  in  both  :  He  look'd  into 
his  Receipts  for  the  Value  of  a  Play,  and  from  com- 
mon Fame  he  judg'd  of  his  Actors.  But  by  what- 
ever Rule  he  was  govern'd,  while  he  had  prudently 

THE    LIFE    OF    MR.    COLLEY    CICBER.  263 

reserv'd  to  himself  a  Power  of  not  paying  them  more 
than  their  Merit  could  get,  he  could  not  be  much  de- 
ceived by  their  being  over  or  under-valued.  In  a 
Word,  he  had  with  great  Skill  inverted  the  Constitu- 
tion of  the  Stage,  and  quite  changed  the  Channel  of 
Profits  arising  from  it ;  formerly,  (when  there  was  but 
one  Company)  the  Proprietors  punctually  paid  the 
Actors  their  appointed  Sallaries,  and  took  to  them- 
selves only  the  clear  Profits  :  But  our  wiser  Proprietor 
took  first  out  of  every  Day's  Receipts  two  Shillings 
in  the  Pound  to  himself;  and  left  their  Sallaries  to 
be  paid  only  as  the  less  or  greater  Deficiencies  of 
acting  (according  to  his  own  Accounts)  would  per- 
mit. What  seem'd  most  extraordinary  in  these 
Measures  was,  that  at  the  same  time  he  had  per- 
suaded us  to  be  contented  with  our  Condition,  upon 
his  assuring  us  that  as  fast  as  Money  would  come  in 
we  should  all  be  paid  our  Arrears  :  And  that  we 
might  not  have  it  always  in  our  Power  to  say  he  had 
never  intended  to  keep  his  Word,  I  remember  in  a 
few  Years  after  this  time  he  once  paid  us  nine  Days 
in  one  Week :  This  happen'd  when  the  Funeral,  or 
Grief  a  la  Mode^  was  first  acted,  with  more  than 
expected  Success.  Whether  this  well-tim'd  Bounty 
was  only  allow'd  us  to  save  Appearances  I  will  not 
say  :  But  if  that  was  his  real  Motive  for  it,  it  was 
too  costly  a  frolick  to  be  repeated,  and  was  at  least 
the  only  Grimace  of  its  kind  he  vouchsafed  us ;  we 

'  Steele's  comedy  was  produced  at  Drury  Lane  in  1702.     Gibber 
played  Lord  Plardy. 

264  THE   LIFE    OF 

never  having  received  one  Day  more  of  those  Arrears 
in  above  fifteen  Years  Service. 

While  the  Actors  were  in  this  Condition,  I  think 
I  may  very  well  be  excused  in  my  presuming  to 
write  Plays  :  which  I  was  forced  to  do  for  the  Sup- 
port of  my  encreasing  Family,  my  precarious  Income 
as  an  Actor  being  then  too  scanty  to  supply  it  with 
even  the  Necessaries  of  Life. 

It  may  be  observable,  too,  that  my  Muse  and  my 
Spouse  were  equally  prolifick  ;  that  the  one  was  sel- 
dom the  Mother  of  a  Child,  but  in  the  same  Year  the 
other  made  me  the  Father  of  a  Play :  I  think  we 
had  a  Dozen  of  each  Sort  between  us ;  of  both 
which  kinds,  some  died  in  their  Infancy,  and  near  an 
equal  Number  of  each  were  alive  when  I  quitted  the 
Theatre — But  it  is  no  Wonder,  when  a  Muse  is  only 
call'd  upon  by  Family  Duty,  she  should  not  always 
rejoice  in  the  Fruit  of  her  Labour.  To  this  Neces- 
sity of  writing,  then,  I  attribute  the  Defects  of  my 
second  Play,  which,  coming  out  too  hastily  the  Year 
after  my  first,  turn'd  to  very  little  Account.  But 
having  got  as  much  by  my  first  as  I  ought  to  have  ex- 
pected from  the  Success  of  them  both,  I  had  no  great 
Reason  to  complain  :  Not  but,  I  confess,  so  bad  was 
my  second,  that  I  do  not  chuse  to  tell  you  the  Name 
of  it;  and  that  it  might  be  peaceably  forgotten,  I 
have  not  given  it  a  Place  in  the  two  Volumes  of 
those  I  publish'd  in  Quarto  in  the  Year  1721.^     And 

'  The  play  was  called  "  Woman's  Wit;  or,  the  Lady  in  Fashion." 
It  was  produced  at  Drury  Lane  in  1697.     It  must  have  been  in 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  265 

whenever  I  took  upon  me  to  make  some  dormant 
Play  of  an  old  Author  to  the  best  of  my  Judgment 
fitter  for  the  Stage,  it  was  honestly  not  to  be  idle 
that  set  me  to  work;  as  a  good  Housewife  will  mend 
old  Linnen  when  she  has  not  better  Employment : 
But  when  I  was  more  warmly  engag'd  by  a  Subject 
entirely  new,  I  only  thought  it  a  good  Subject  when 
it  seem'd  worthy  of  an  abler  Pen  than  my  own,  and 
might  prove  as  useful  to  the  Hearer  as  profitable  to 
my  self :  Therefore,  whatever  any  of  my  Productions 
might  want  of  Skill,  Learning,  Wit,  or  Humour,  or 
however  unqualify'd  I  might  be  to  instruct  others  who 
so  ill  govern'd  my  self :  Yet  such  Plays  (entirely  my 
own)  were  not  wanting,  at  least,  in  what  our  most 
admired  Writers  seem'd  to  neglect,  and  without 
which  I  cannot  allow  the  most  taking  Play  to  be  in- 

the  early  months  of  that  year,  for  in  his  Preface  Gibber  says,  to 
excuse  its  failure,  that  it  was  hurriedly  written,  and  that  "  rather 
than  lose  a  Winter"  he  forced  himself  to  invent  a  fable.  "The 
Laureat,"  p.  50,  stupidly  says  that  the  name  of  the  play  was 
"  Perolla  and  Isadora."     The  cast  was  : — 

Lord  Lovemore Mr.  Harland. 

LoNGViLLE Mr.  Gibber. 

Major  Rakish Mr.  Penkethman. 

Jack  Rakish Mr.  Powel. 

Mass  Johnny,  Lady  Manlove's  Son, 

a  schoolboy Mr.  Dogget. 

Father  Benedic Mr.  Smeaton. 

Lady  Manlove Mrs.  Powel. 

Leonora Mrs.  Knight. 

Emilia Mrs.  Rogers. 

Olivia Mrs.  Gibber. 

Lettice Mrs.  Kent. 

266  THE    LIFE   OF 

trinslcally  good,  or  to  be  a  Work  upon  which  a  Man 
of  Sense  and  Probity  should  value  himself :  I  mean 
when  they  do  not,  as  well  prodesse  as  deledare}  give 
Profit  with  Delight!  The  Utile  DtilcP  was,  of  old, 
equally  the  Point ;  and  has  always  been  my  Aim, 
however  wide  of  the  Mark  I  may  have  shot  my  Arrow. 
It  has  often  given  me  Amazement  that  our  best 
Authors  of  that  time  could  think  the  Wit  and  Spirit 
of  their  Scenes  could  be  an  Excuse  for  making  the 
Looseness  of  them  publick.  The  many  Instances  of 
their  Talents  so  abused  are  too  glaring  to  need  a  closer 
Comment,  and  are  sometimes  too  gross  to  be  recited. 
If  then  to  have  avoided  this  Imputation,  or  rather 
to  have  had  the  Interest  and  Honour  of  Virtue 
always  in  view,  can  give  Merit  to  a  Play,  I  am  con- 
tented that  my  Readers  should  think  such  Merit  the 
All  that  mine  have  to  boast  of — Libertines  of  meer 
Wit  and  Pleasure  may  laugh  at  these  grave  Laws 
that  would  limit  a  lively  Genius  :  But  every  sensible 
honest  Man,  conscious  of  their  Truth  and  Use,  will 
give  these  Ralliers  Smile  for  Smile,  and  shew  a  due 
Contempt  for  their  Merriment. 

But  while  our  Authors  took  these  extraordinary 
Liberties  with  their  Wit,  I  remember  the  Ladies 
were  then  observ'd  to  be  decently  afraid  of  ventur- 
ing bare-fac'd  to  a  new  Comedy  'till  they  had  been 

*  "  Aut  prodesse  volunt  aut  delectare  poetae." 

Hor.  Ars  Foetica,  333. 

*  "  Omne  tulit  punctum  qui  miscuit  utile  dulci." 

Hor,  A}-s  Poetica,  343. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  267 

assur'd  they  might  do  it  without  the  Risque  of  an 
Insult  to  their  Modesty — Or,  if  their  Curiosity  were 
too  strong  for  their  Patience,  they  took  Care,  at 
least,  to  save  Appearances,  and  rarely  came  upon  the 
first  Days  of  Acting  but  in  Masks,  (then  daily  worn 
and  admitted  in  the  Pit,  the  side  Boxes,  and  Gallery^) 
which  Custom,  however,  had  so  many  ill  Conse- 
quences attending  it,  that  it  has  been  abolish'd  these 
many  Years. 

These  Immoralities  of  the  Stage  had  by  an  avow'd 
Indulgence  been  creeping  into  it  ever  since  King 
Charles  his  Time  ;  nothing  that  was  loose  could  then 
be  too  low  for  it :  The  London  Cnckolds,  the  most 
rank  Play  that  ever  succeeded,"  was  then  in  the 
highest  Court-Favour:  In  this  almost  general  Cor- 
ruption, Dryden,  whose  Plays  were  more  fam'd  for 
their  Wit  than  their  Chastity,  led  the  way,  which  he 
fairly  confesses,  and  endeavours  to  excuse  in  his 
Epilogue  to  the  Pilgrim,  revived  in  1700   for  his 

^  Pepys  (i2th  June,  1663)  records  that  the  Lady  Mary  Crom- 
well at  the  Theatre,  "  when  the  House  began  to  fill,  put  on  her 
vizard,  and  so  kept  it  on  all  the  play ;  which  of  late  is 
become  a  great  fashion  among  the  ladies,  which  hides  their  whole 
face."  Very  soon,  however,  ladies  gave  up  the  use  of  the  mask, 
and  "Vizard-mask"  became  a  synonym  for  "Prostitute."  In 
this  sense  it  is  frequently  used  in  Dryden's  Prologues  and 

'  Compare  with  Cibber's  condemnation  Genest's  opinion  of  this 
play.  He  says  (i.  365) :  "  If  it  be  the  province  of  Comedy,  not  to 
retail  morality  to  a  yawning  pit,  but  to  make  the  audience  laugh, 
and  to  keep  them  in  good  humour,  this  play  must  be  allowed  to  be 
one  of  the  best  comedies  in  the  English  language." 

268  THE    LIFE    OF 

Benefit/   in  his  declining  Age   and    Fortune — The 
following  Lines  of  it  will  make  good  my  Observation. 

Perhaps  the  Parson  ^  stj'etcJtd  a  Point  too  far, 
Wheit  with  our  Theatres  he  wap-'d  a  War. 
He  tells  yoti  that  this  very  moral  Age 
Receiv  d  the  first  Infection  fi'o^n  the  Stage. 
But  sure,  a  banish' d  Court,  with  Lewdness  fraught, 
The  Seeds  of  open  Vice  returning  brought. 
Thus  lodgd  {as  vice  by  great  Example  thrives^ 
It  first  debaucJid  the  Daughters,  and  the  Wives. 
London,  a  fruitful  Soil,  yet  never  bore 
So  plentiful  a  Crop  of  Horns  before. 
The  Poets,  who  must  live  by  Courts  or  starve, 
Were  proud  so  good  a  Government  to  serve. 
And  m,ixing  with  Buffoons  and  Pimps  profane. 
Tailzied  the  Stage  for  some  small  snip  of  Gain. 
Tor  they,  like  Harlots  under  Bawds  prof  est, 
Took  all  t/i  ungodly  Pains,  and  got  the  least. 
Thus  did  the  tJij^ving  Malady  prevail, 

^  To  "  The  Pilgrim,"  revived  in  1700,  as  Gibber  states,  Dryden's 
"  Secular  Masque  "  was  attached.  Whether  the  revival  took  place 
before  or  after  Dryden's  death  (ist  May,  1700)  is  a  moot  point. 
See  Genest,  ii.  179,  for  an  admirable  account  of  the  matter.  He 
thinks  it  probable  that  the  date  of  production  was  25th  March, 
1700.  Gibber  is  scarcely  accurate  in  stating  that  "  The  Pilgrim  " 
was  revived  for  Dryden's  benefit.  It  seems,  rather,  that  Vanbrugh, 
who  revised  the  play,  stipulated  that,  in  consideration  of  Dryden's 
writing  "  The  Secular  Masque,"  and  also  the  Prologue  and  Epi- 
logue, he  should  have  the  usual  author's  third  night.  The  B.  M. 
copy  of  "  The  Pilgrim  "  is  dated,  in  an  old  handwriting,  "  Monday, 
the  5  of  May." 

^  Jeremy  Gollier. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  269 

The  Co7irt  ifs  Head,  the  Poets  but  the  Tail. 
The  Sin  was  of  our  native  Growth,  'tis  true, 
The  Scandal  of  the  Sin  was  wholly  new. 
Misses  there  were,  but  modestly  conceaVd  ;  -• 

White-hall  the  naked  Y (tnns  first  reveaVd, 
Who  standing,  as  at  Cyprus,  in  her  Shrine, 
The  Strumpet  was  adord  with  Rites  divine,  &c. 

This  Epilogue,  and  the  Prologue  to  the  same  Play, 
written  by  Dryden,  I  spoke  myself,  which  not  being 
usually  done  by  the  same  Person,  I  have  a  mind, 
while  I  think  of  it,  to  let  you  know  on  what  Occa- 
sion they  both  fell  to  my  Share,  and  how  other 
Actors  were  affected  by  it. 

Sir  John  Vanbrugh,  who  had  given  some  light 
touches  of  his  Pen  to  the  Pilgrim  to  assist  the 
Benefit  Day  of  Dryden,  had  the  Disposal  of  the 
Parts,  and  I  being  then  as  an  Actor  in  some  Favour 
with  him,  he  read  the  Play  first  with  me  alone,  and 
was  pleased  to  offer  me  my  Choice  of  what  I  might 
like  best  for  myself  in  it.  But  as  the  chief  Characters 
were  not  (according  to  my  Taste)  the  most  shining, 
it  was  no  orreat  Self-denial  in  me  that  I  desir'd  he 
would  first  take  care  of  those  who  were  more  difficult 
to  be  pleased  ;  I  therefore  only  chose  for  myself  two 
short  incidental  Parts,  that  of  the  stuttering  Cook^ 
and  the  mad  Englishman.  In  which  homely  Cha- 
racters I  saw  more  Matter  for  Delight  than  those  that 

^  Genest  notes  (ii.  181)  that  in  the  original  play  the  Servant  in 
the  2nd  act  did  not  stutter. 

270  THE    LIFE    OF 

might  have  a  better  Pretence  to  the  Amiable  :  And 
when  the  Play  came  to  be  acted  I  was  not  deceiv'd 
in  my  Choice.  Sir  John,  upon  my  being  contented 
with  so  little  a  Share  in  the  Entertainment,  gave  me 
the  Epilogue  to  make  up  my  Mess ;  which  being 
written  so  much  above  the  Strain  of  common  Authors, 
I  confess  I  was  not  a  little  pleased  with.  And 
Dryden,  upon  his  hearing  me  repeat  it  to  him,  made 
me  a  farther  Compliment  of  trusting  me  with  the 
Prologue.  This  so  particular  Distinction  was  looked 
upon  by  the  Actors  as  something  too  extraordinary. 
But  no  one  was  so  impatiently  ruffled  at  It  as  Wilks, 
who  seldom  chose  soft  Words  when  he  spoke  of  any 
thing  he  did  not  like.  The  most  gentle  thing  he 
said  of  it  was,  that  he  did  not  understand  such 
Treatment ;  that  for  his  Part  he  look'd  upon  it  as  an 
Affront  to  all  the  rest  of  the  Company,  that  there 
shou'd  be  but  one  out  of  the  Whole  judg'd  fit  to 
speak  either  a  Prologue  or  an  Epilogue !  to  quiet 
him  I  offer'd  to  decline  either  in  his  Favour,  or  both, 
if  it  were  equally  easy  to  the  Author :  But  he  was 
too  much  concern'd  to  accept  of  an  Offer  that  had 
been  made  to  another  in  preference  to  himself,  and 
which  he  seem'd  to  think  his  best  way  of  resenting 
was  to  contemn.  But  from  that  time,  however,  he 
was  resolv'd,  to  the  best  of  his  Power,  never  to  let 
the  first  Offer  of  a  Prologue  escape  him  :  Which 
little  Ambition  sometimes  made  him  pay  too  dear 
for  his  Success  :  The  Flatness  of  the  many  miserable 
Prologues  that  by  this  means  fell  to  his  Lot,  seem'd 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  27 1 

wofully  unequal  to  the  few  good  ones  he  might  have 
Reason  to  triumph  in. 

I  have  given  you  this  Fact  only  as  a  Sample  of 
those  frequent  Rubs  and  Impediments  I  met  with 
when  any  Step  was  made  to  my  being  distinguish'd 
as  an  Actor  ;  and  from  this  Incident,  too,  you  may 
partly  see  what  occasion'd  so  many  Prologues,  after 
the  Death  of  Better  ton,  to  fall  into  the  Hands  of  one 
Speaker :  But  it  is  not  every  Successor  to  a  vacant 
Post  that  brings  into  it  the  Talents  equal  to  those  of 
a  Predecessor.  To  speak  a  good  Prologue  well  is, 
in  my  Opinion,  one  of  the  hardest  Parts  and  strongest 
Proofs  of  sound  Elocution,  of  which,  I  confess,  I 
never  thought  that  any  of  the  several  who  attempted 
it  shew'd  themselves,  by  far,  equal  Masters  to  Better- 
ton.  Betterton,  in  the  Delivery  of  a  good  Prologue, 
had  a. natural  Gravity  that  gave  Strength  to  good 
Sense,  a  temper'd  Spirit  that  gave  Life  to  Wit,  and 
a  dry  Reserve  in  his  Smile  that  threw  Ridicule  into 
its  brightest  Colours.  Of  these  Qualities,  in  the 
speaking  of  a  Prologue,  Booth  only  had  the  first,  but 
attain'd  not  to  the  other  two  :  Wilks  had  Spirit,  but 
gave  too  loose  a  Rein  to  it,  and  it  was  seldom  he 
could  speak  a  grave  and  weighty  Verse  harmoniously  : 
His  Accents  were  frequently  too  sharp  and  violent, 
which  sometimes  occasion'd  his  eagerly  cutting  off 
half  the  Sound  of  Syllables  that  ought  to  have  been 
gently  melted  into  the  Melody  of  Metre  :  In  Verses 
of  Humour,  too,  he  would  sometimes  carry  the 
Mimickry  farther  than  the  hint  would  bear,  even  to 

272  THE    LIFE    OF 

a  trifling  Light,  as  if  himself  were  pleased  to  see  it 
so  glittering.  In  the  Truth  of  this  Criticism  I  have 
been  confirm'd  by  those  whose  Judgment  I  dare  more 
confidently  rely  on  than  my  own :  Wilks  had  many 
Excellencies,  but  if  we  leave  Prologue-Speaking  out 
of  the  Number  he  will  still  have  enough  to  have 
made  him  a  valuable  Actor.  And  I  only  make  this 
Exception  from  them  to  caution  others  from  imitating 
what,  in  his  time,  they  might  have  too  implicitly 
admired —  But  I  have  a  Word  or  two  more  to  say 
concerning  the  Immoralities  of  the  Stage.  Our 
Theatrical  Writers  were  not  only  accus'd  of  Immo- 
rality, but  Prophaneness  ;  many  flagrant  Instances 
of  which  were  collected  and  published  by  a  Non- 
juring  Clergyman,  yi?r^;;2)/  Collier,  in  his  View  of  the 
Stage,  &c.  about  the  Year  1697.^  However  just  his 
Charofe  ao^ainst  the  Authors  that  then  wrote  for  it 
might  be,  I  cannot  but  think  his  Sentence  against 
the  Stage  itself  is  unequal ;  Reformation  he  thinks 
too  mild  a  Treatment  for  it,  and  is  therefore  for 
laying  his  Ax  to  the  Root  of  it :  If  this  were  to  be  a 
Rule  of  Judgment  for  Offences  of  the  same  Nature, 

^  Collier's  famous  work,  which  was  entitled  "A  Short  View  of 
the  Immorality  and  Profaneness  of  the  English  Stage  :  together 
with  the  sense  of  Antiquity  upon  this  Argument,"  was  published 
in  1698.  Collier  was  a  Nonjuring  clergyman.  He  was  born  on 
23rd  September,  1650,  and  died  in  1726,  The  circumstance  to 
which  Gibber  alludes  in  the  second  paragraph  from  the  present, 
was  Collier's  attending  to  the  scaffold  Sir  John  Friend  and  Sir 
William  Perkins,  who  were  executed  for  complicity  in  plots 
against  King  WilHam  in  1696. 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  273 

what  might  become  of  the  Pulpit,  where  many  a 
seditious  and  corrupted  Teacher  has  been  known  to 
cover  the  most  pernicious  Doctrine  with  the  Masque 
of  Religion  ?  This  puts  me  in  mind  of  what  the 
notedyi?.  Haiiis}  the  Comedian,  a  Fellow  of  a  wicked 
Wit,  said  upon  this  Occasion  ;  who  being  ask'd  what 
could  transport  Mr.  Collier  into  so  blind  a  Zeal  for  a 
general  Suppression  of  the  Stage,  when  only  some 
particular  Authors  had  abus'd  it  .-^  Whereas  the 
Stage,  he  could  not  but  know,  was  generally  allow'd, 
when  rightly  conducted,  to  be  a  delightful  Method 
of  mending  our  Morals  ?  "  For  that  Reason,  reply'd 
"  Hains :  Collier  is  by  Profession  a  Moral-mender 
"  himself,  and  two  of  Trade,  you  know,  can  never 
"  agree."  ^ 

^  The  facetious  Joe  Haines  was  an  actor  of  great  popularity,  and 
seems  to  have  excelled  in  the  delivery  of  Prologues  and  Epilogues, 
especially  of  those  written  by  himself.  He  was  on  the  stage  from 
about  1672  to  1700  or  1701,  in  which  latter  year  (on  the  4th  of 
April)  he  died.  He  was  the  original  Sparkish  in  Wycherley's 
"  Country  Wife,"  Lord  Plausible  in  the  same  author's  "  Plain 
Dealer,"  and  Tom  Errand  in  Farquhar's  "  Constant  Couple." 
Davies  ("Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  284)  tells,  on  Quin's  authority,  an 
anecdote  of  Haines's  pretended  conversion  to  Romanism  during 
James  the  Second's  reign.  He  declared  that  the  Virgin  Mary 
appeared  to  him  in  a  vision.  "  Lord  Sunderland  sent  for  Joe, 
and  asked  him  about  the  truth  of  his  conversion,  and  whether  he 
had  really  seen  the  Virgin  ? — Yes,  my  Lord,  I  assure  you  it  is  a 
fact. — How  was  it,  pray? — Why,  as  I  was  lying  in  my  bed,  the 
Virgin  appeared  to  me,  and  said.  Arise,  Joe  ! — You  lie,  you  rogue, 
said  the  Earl ;  for,  if  it  had  really  been  the  Virgin  herself,  she 
would  have  said  Joseph,  if  it  had  been  only  out  of  respect  to  her 
husband."     For  an  account  of  Haines,  see  also  Anthony  Aston. 

^  "The  Laurcat"  (p.  53)  states  that  soon  after  the  publication 


274  THE    LIFE    OF 

The  Authors  of  the  old  Batchelor  and  of  the 
Relapse  were  those  whom  Collier  most  labour'd  to 
convict  of  Immorahty  ;  to  which  they  severally  pub- 
lish'd  their  Reply  ;  the  first  seem'd  too  much  hurt 
to  be  able  to  defend  himself,  and  the  other  felt  him 
so  little  that  his  Wit  only  laugh'd  at  his  Lashes/ 

My  first  Play  of  the  Fool  in  Fashion,  too,  being 
then  in  a  Course  of  Success  ;  perhaps  for  that  Reason 
only,  this  severe  Author  thought  himself  oblig'd  to 
attack  it ;  in  which  I  hope  he  has  shewn  more  Zeal 
than  Justice,  his  greatest  Charge  against  it  is,  that  it 
sometimes  uses  the  Word  Faith !  as  an  Oath,  in  the 
Dialogue  :  But  if  Faith  may  as  well  signify  our  given 
Word  or  Credit  as  our  religious  Belief,  why  might 
not  his  Charity  have  taken  it  in  the  less  criminal 
Sense  ?  Nevertheless,  Mr.  Colliers  Book  was  upon 
the  whole  thought  so  laudable  a  Work,  that  King 

of  Collier's  book,  informers  were  placed  in  different  parts  of  the 
theatres,  on  whose  information  several  players  were  charged  with 
uttering  immoral  words.  Queen  Anne,  however,  satisfied  that  the 
informers  were  not  actuated  by  zeal  for  morality,  stopped  the 
inquisition.  These  informers  were  paid  by  the  Society  for  the 
Reformation  of  Manners. 

^  Congreve's  answer  to  Collier  was  entitled  "  Amendments  of 
Mr.  Collier's  false  and  imperfect  Citations,  &c.  from  the  Old 
Batchelour,  Double  Dealer,  Love  for  Love,  Mourning  Bride.  By 
the  Author  of  those  Plays."  Vanbrugh  called  his  reply,  "  A  Short 
Vindication  of  the  Relapse  and  the  Provok'd  Wife,  from  Immo- 
rality and  Prophaneness.  By  the  Author."  Davies  says,  regarding 
Congreve  ("  Dram.  Misc.,"iii.  401) :  "Congreve's pride  was  hurt  by 
Collier's  attack  on  plays  which  all  the  world  had  admired  and 
commended ;  and  no  hypocrite  showed  more  rancour  and  resent- 
ment, when  unmasked,  than  this  author,  so  greatly  celebrated  for 
sweetness  of  temper  and  elegance  of  manners." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  275 

William,  soon  after  it  was  publish'd,  granted  him  a 
Nolo  Prosequi  when  he  stood  answerable  to  the  Law 
for  his  having  absolved  two  Criminals  just  before 
they  were  executed  for  High  Treason.  And  it  must 
be  farther  granted  that  his  calling  our  Dramatick 
Writers  to  this  strict  Account  had  a  very  wholesome 
Effect  upon  those  who  writ  after  this  time.  They 
were  now  a  great  deal  more  upon  their  guard;  In- 
decencies were  no  longer  Wit ;  and  by  Degrees  the 
fair  Sex  came  again  to  fill  the  Boxes  on  the  first  Day 
of  a  new  Comedy,  without  Fear  or  Censure.  But 
the  Master  of  the  Revels/  who  then  licens'd  all  Plays 
for  the  Stage,  assisted  this  Reformation  with  a  more 
zealous  Severity  than  ever.  He  would  strike  out 
whole  Scenes  of  a  vicious  or  immoral  Character,  tho' 
it  were  visibly  shewn  to  be  reform'd  or  punish'd ;  a 
severe  Instance  of  this  kind  falling  upon  my  self  may 
be  an  Excuse  for  my  relating  it :  When  Richard  the 
Third  (as  I  alter'd  it  from  ShakespearY  came  from 
his  Hands  to  the  Stage,  he  expung'd  the  whole  first 
Act  without  sparing  a  Line  of  it.  This  extraordinary 
Stroke  of  a  Sic  volo  occasion'd  my  applying  to  him 
for  the  small  Indulgence  of  a  Speech  or  two,  that 
the  other  four  Acts  might  limp  on  with  a  little  less 
Absurdity  !  no !  he  had  not  leisure  to  consider  what 
might  be  separately  inoffensive.     He  had  an  Objec- 

^  Charles  Killigrew,  who  died  in  1725,  having  held  the  office  of 
Master  of  the  Revels  for  over  forty  years. 

^  Produced  at  Drury  Lane  in  1700.  For  some  account  of 
Gibber's  playing  of  Richard,  see  ante,  pp.  139,  140. 

276  THE   LIFE    OF 

tion  to  the  whole  Act,  and  the  Reason  he  gave  for  it 
was,  that  the  Distresses  of  King  Henry  the  Sixth, 
who  is  kill'd  by  Richard  in  the  first  Act,  would  put 
weak  People  too  much  in  mind  of  King  James  then 
living  in  France;  a  notable  Proof  of  his  Zeal  for  the 
Government!^  Those  who  have  read  either  the 
Play  or  the  History,  I  dare  say  will  think  he  strain'd 
hard  for  the  Parallel.  In  a  Word,  we  were  forc'd, 
for  some  few  Years,  to  let  the  Play  take  its  Fate 
with  only  four  Acts  divided  into  five  ;  by  the  Loss  of 
so  considerable  a  Limb,  may  one  not  modestly  sup- 
pose it  was  robbed  of  at  least  a  fifth  Part  of  that 
Favour  it  afterwards  met  with  ?  For  tho'  this  first 
Act  was  at  last  recovered,  and  made  the  Play  whole 
again,  yet  the  Relief  came  too  late  to  repay  me  for 
the  Pains  I  had  taken  in  it.  Nor  did  I  ever  hear 
that  this  zealous  Severity  of  the  Master  of  the  Revels 
was  afterwards  thought  justifiable.  But  my  good 
Fortune,  in  Process  of  time,  gave  me  an  Opportunity 
to  talk  with  my  Oppressor  in  my  Turn. 

The  Patent  granted  by  his  Majesty  King  George 
the  First  to  Sir  Richard  Steele  and  his  Assigns,^  of 
which  I  was  one,  made  us  sole  Judges  of  what  Plays 

^  Chalmers  ("Apology  for  the  Believers  in  the  Shakspeare 
Papers,"  page  535)  comments  unfavourably  on  Gibber's  method 
of  stating  this  fact,  saying,  "  Well  might  Pope  cry  out,  modest 
Gibber  !"  But  Ghalmers  is  unjust  to  Golley,  who  is  not  express- 
ing his  own  opinion  of  his  play's  importance,  but  merely  reporting 
the  opinion  of  Killigrew. 

^  Steele's  name  first  appears  in  a  License  granted  i8th  October, 
1 7 14.     His  Patent  was  dated  19th  January,  17 15. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  277 

might  be  proper  for  the  Stage,  without  submitting 
them  to  the  Approbation  or  License  of  any  other 
particular  Person.  Notwithstanding  which,  the 
Master  of  the  Revels  demanded  his  Fee  of  Forty- 
Shillings  upon  our  acting  a  new  One,  tho'  we  had 
spared  him  the  Trouble  of  perusing  it.  This  occa- 
sion'd  my  being  deputed  to  him  to  enquire  into  the 
Riofht  of  his  Demand,  and  to  make  an  amicable  End 
of  our  Dispute.^  I  confess  I  did  not  dislike  the 
Office;  and  told  him,  according  to  my  Instructions, 
That  I  came  not  to  defend  even  our  own  Right  in 
prejudice  to  his ;  that  if  our  Patent  had  inadver- 
tendy  superseded  the  Grant  of  any  former  Power  or 
Warrant  whereon  he  might  ground  his  Pretensions, 
we  would  not  insist  upon  our  Broad  Seal,  but  would 
readily  answer  his  Demands  upon  sight  of  such  his 
Warrant,  any  thing  in  our  Patent  to  the  contrary  not- 
withstanding. This  I  had  reason  to  think  he  could 
not  do  ;  and  when  I  found  he  made  no  direct  Reply 
to  my  Question,  I  repeated  it  with  greater  Civilities 

1  Chalmers  ("Apology  for  the  Believers,"  page  536)  says :  "The 
patentees  sent  Colley  Gibber,  as  envoy-extraordinary,  to  negotiate 
an  amicable  settlement  with  the  Sovereign  of  the  Revels.  It  is 
amusing  to  hear,  how  this  flippant  negotiator  explained  his  own 
pretensions,  and  attempted  to  invalidate  the  right  of  his  oppo- 
nent; as  if  a  subsequent  charter,  under  the  great  seal,  could 
supersede  a  preceding  grant  under  the  same  authority.  Charles 
Killigrew,  who  was  now  sixty-five  years  of  age,  seems  to  have  been 
oppressed  by  the  insolent  civihty  of  Colley  Cibber."  But  this  is 
an  undeserved  hit  at  Cibber,  who  had  suffered  the  grossest  injus- 
tice at  Killigrew's  hands  regarding  the  licensing  of  "Richard  III." 
See  ante,  p.  275.  The  dispute  regarding  fees  must  have  occurred 
about  1 7 15. 

2  78  THE    LIFE   OF 

and  Offers  of  Compliance,  'till  I  was  forc'd  in  the 
end  to  conclude  with  telling  him,  That  as  his  Pre- 
tensions were  not  back'd  with  any  visible  Instrument 
of  Right,  and  as  his  strongest  Plea  was  Custom,  we 
could  not  so  far  extend  our  Complaisance  as  to  con- 
tinue his  Fees  upon  so  slender  a  Claim  to  them  : 
And  from  that  Time  neither  our  Plays  or  his  Fees 
gave  either  of  us  any  farther  trouble.  In  this  Nego- 
tiation I  am  the  bolder  to  think  Justice  was  on  our 
Side,  because  the  Law  lately  pass'd,^  by  which  the 

'  The  Licensing  Act  of  1737.  This  Act  was  passed  by  Sir 
Robert  Walpole's  government,  and  gave  to  the  Lord  Chamberlain 
the  power  to  prohibit  a  piece  from  being  acted  at  all,  by  making 
it  necessary  to  have  every  play  hcensed.  This  power,  however, 
had  practically  been  exercised  by  the  Chamberlain  before,  as  in 
the  case  of  Gay's  "  Polly,"  which  Cibber  has  already  mentioned. 
The  immediate  cause  of  this  Act  of  1737  was  a  piece  called  "The 
Golden  Rump,"  which  was  so  full  of  scurrility  against  the  powers 
that  were,  that  Giffard,  the  manager  to  whom  it  was  submitted,  car- 
ried it  to  Walpole.  In  spite  of  the  opposition  of  Lord  Chesterfield, 
who  delivered  a  famous  speech  against  it,  the  Bill  was  passed, 
2ist  June,  1737.  The  "Biographia  Dramatica"  hints  plainly  that 
"  The  Golden  Rump "  was  written  at  Walpole's  instigation  to 
afford  an  excuse  for  the  Act.  Bellchambers  has  the  following 
note  on  this  passage  : — 

"The  Abbe'  Le  Blanc,*  who  was  in  England  at  the  time  this 
law  passed,  has  the  following  remarks  upon  it  in  his  correspon- 
dence : — 

" '  This  act  occasioned  an  universal  murmur  in  the  nation,  and 
was  openly  complained  of  in  the  public  papers :  in  all  the  coffee- 
houses of  London  it  was  treated  as  an  unjust  law,  and  manifestly 
contrary  to  the  liberties  of  the  people  of  England.  When  winter 
came,  and  the  play-houses  were  opened,  that  of  Covent-garden 

*  Mr.  Garrick,  when  in  Paris,  refused  to  meet  this  writer,  on  account  of  the 
irreverence  with  which  he  had  treated  Shakspeare. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  279 

Power  of  Licensing  Plays,  (2fc.  is  given  to  a  proper 
Person,  is  a  strong  Presumption  that  no  Law  had 
ever  given  that  Power  to  any  such  Person  before. 

My  having  mentioned  this  Law,  which  so  imme- 
diately affected  the  Stage,  incHnes  me  to  throw  out  a 

began  with  three  new  pieces,  which  had  been  approved  of  by  the 
Lord  Chamberlain.  There  was  a  crowd  of  spectators  present  at 
the  first,  and  among  the  number  myself.  The  best  play  in  the 
world  would  not  have  succeeded  the  first  night.*  There  was  a 
resolution  to  damn  whatever  might  appear,  the  word  /ii'ss  not 
being  sufficiently  expressive  for  the  English.  They  always  say,  to 
damn  a  piece,  to  damn  an  author,  &c.  and,  in  reality,  the  word  is 
not  too  strong  to  express  the  manner  in  which  they  receive  a  play 
which  does  not  please  them.  The  farce  in  question  was  damned 
indeed,  without  the  least  compassion  :  nor  was  that  all,  for  the 
actors  were  driven  off  the  stage,  and  happy  was  it  for  the  author 
that  he  did  not  fall  into  the  hands  of  this  furious  assembly. 

"  '  As  you  are  unacquainted  with  the  customs  of  this  country,  you 
cannot  easily  devise  who  were  the  authors  of  all  this  disturbance. 
Perhaps  you  may  think  they  were  schoolboys,  apprentices,  clerks, 
or  mechanics.  No,  sir,  they  were  men  of  a  very  grave  and  genteel 
profession ;  they  were  lawyers,  and  please  you ;  a  body  of  gentle- 
men, perhaps  less  honoured,  but  certainly  more  feared  here  than 
they  are  in  France.  Most  of  them  live  in  colleges,t  where,  con- 
versing always  with  one  another,  they  mutually  preserve  a  spirit  of 
independency  through  the  body,  and  with  great  ease  form  cabals. 
These  gentlemen,  in  the  stage  entertainments  of  London,  behave 
much  like  our  footboys,  in  those  at  a  fair.  With  us,  your  party- 
coloured  gentry  are  the  most  noisy ;  but  here,  men  of  the  law  have 
all  the  sway,  if  I  may  be  permitted  to  call  so  those  pretended  pro- 
fessors of  it,  who  are  rather  the  organs  of  chicanery,  than  the  inter- 

*  The  action  was  interrupted  almost  as  soon  as  begun,  in  presence  of  a 
numerous  assembly,  by  a  cabal  who  had  resolved  to  overthrow  the  first  effect 
of  this  act  of  parliament,  though  it  had  been  thought  necessary  for  the  regula- 
tion of  the  stage. 

+  Called  here  Inns  of  Court,  as  the  two  Temples,  Lincoln's  Inn,  Gray's  Inn, 
Doctor's  Commons,  &c. 

28o  THE    LIFE    OF 

few  Observations  upon  it :  But  I  must  first  lead 
you  gradually  thro'  the  Facts  and  natural  Causes 
that  made  such  a  Law  necessary. 

Although  it  had  been  taken  for  granted,  from  Time 

preters  of  justice.  At  Paris  the  cabals  of  the  pit  are  only  among 
young  fellows,  whose  years  may  excuse  their  folly,  or  persons  of 
the  meanest  education  and  stamp ;  here  they  are  the  fruit  of  deli- 
berations in  a  very  grave  body  of  people,  who  are  not  less  for- 
midable to  the  minister  in  place,  than  to  the  theatrical  writers. 

" '  The  players  were  not  dismayed,  but  soon  after  stuck  up  bills 
for  another  new  piece  :  there  was  the  same  crowding  at  Covent- 
garden,  to  which  I  again  contributed.  I  was  sure,  at  least,  that  if 
the  piece  advertised  was  not  performed,  I  should  have  the  pleasure 
of  beholding  some  very  extraordinary  scene  acted  in  the  pit. 

"  '  Half  an  hour  before  the  play  was  to  begin,  the  spectators  gave 
notice  of  their  dispositions  by  frightful  hisses  and  outcries,  equal, 
perhaps,  to  what  were  ever  heard  at  a  Roman  amphitheatre.  I 
could  not  have  known,  but  by  my  eyes  only,  that  I  was  among  an 
assembly  of  beings  who  thought  themselves  to  be  reasonable.  The 
author,  who  had  foreseen  this  fury  of  the  pit,  took  care  to  be 
armed  against  it.  He  knew  what  people  he  had  to  deal  with,  and, 
to  make  them  easy,  put  in  his  prologue  double  the  usual  dose  of 
incense  that  is  offered  to  their  vanity ;  for  there  is  an  established 
tax  of  this  kind,  from  which  no  author  is  suffered  to  dispense 
himself.  This  author's  wise  precaution  succeeded,  and  the  men 
that  were  before  so  redoubtable  grew  calm  ;  the  charms  of  flattery, 
more  strong  than  those  of  music,  deprived  them  of  all  their  fierce- 

"  '  You  see,  sir,  that  the  pit  is  the  same  in  all  countries  :  it  loves 
to  be  flattered,  under  the  more  genteel  name  of  being  compli- 
mented. If  a  man  has  tolerable  address  at  panegyric,  they  swallow 
it  greedily,  and  are  easily  quelled  and  intoxicated  by  the  draught. 
Every  one  in  particular  thinks  he  merits  the  praise  that  is  given  to 
the  whole  in  general ;  the  illusion  operates,  and  the  prologue  is 
good,  only  because  it  is  artfully  directed.  Every  one  saves  his  own 
blush  by  the  authority  of  the  multitude  he  makes  a  part  of,  which 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  28 1 

immemorial,  that  no  Company  of  Comedians  could 
act  Plays,  &c.  without  the  Royal  License  or  Protec- 
tion of  some  legal  Authority,  a  Theatre  was,  not- 
withstanding,   erected    in     Goodmaji  s- Fields    about 

is,  perhaps,  the  only  circumstance  in  which  a  man  can  think 
himself  not  obliged  to  be  modest. 

"'The  author  having,  by  flattery,  begun  to  tame  this  wild 
audience,  proceeded  entirely  to  reconcile  it  by  the  first  scene  of 
his  performance.  Two  actors  came  in,  one  dressed  in  the  English 
manner  very  decently,  and  the  other  with  black  eyebrows,  a  ribbon 
of  an  ell  long  under  his  chin,  a  bag-peruke  immoderately  pow- 
dered, and  his  nose  all  bedaubed  with  snuff.  What  Englishman 
could  not  know  a  Frenchman  by  this  ridiculous  picture  !  The 
common  people  of  London  think  we  are  indeed  such  sort  of  folks, 
and  of  their  own  accord,  add  to  our  real  follies  all  that  their 
authors  are  pleased  to  give  us.  But  when  it  was  found,  that  the 
man  thus  equipped,  being  also  laced  down  every  seam  of  his  coat, 
was  nothing  but  a  cook,  the  spectators  were  equally  charmed  and 
surprised.  The  author  had  taken  care  to  make  him  speak  all  the 
impertinencies  he  could  devise,  and  for  that  reason,  all  the  imper- 
tinencies  of  his  farce  were  excused,  and  the  merit  of  it  immediately 
decided.  There  was  a  long  criticism  upon  our  manners,  our 
customs,  and  above  all,  upon  our  cookery.  The  excellence  and 
virtues  of  English  beef  were  cried  up,  and  the  author  maintained, 
that  it  was  owing  to  the  qualities  of  its  juice,  that  the  English  were 
so  courageous,  and  had  such  a  solidity  of  understanding,  which 
raised  them  above  all  the  nations  in  Europe :  he  preferred  the 
noble  old  English  pudding  beyond  all  the  finest  ragouts  that  were 
ever  invented  by  the  greatest  geniuses  that  France  has  produced ; 
and  all  these  ingenious  strokes  were  loudly  clapped  by  the  audience. 

" '  The  pit,  biassed  by  the  abuse  that  was  thrown  on  the  French, 
forgot  that  they  came  to  damn  the  play,  and  maintain  the  ancient 
liberty  of  the  stage.  They  were  friends  with  the  players,  and  even 
with  the  court  itself,  and  contented  themselves  with  the  privilege 
left  them,  of  lashing  our  nation  as  much  as  they  pleased,  in  the 
room  of  laughing  at  the  expense  of  the  minister.     The  Ucense  of 

282  THE    LIFE    OF 

seven  Years  ago/  where  Plays,  without  any  such 
License,  were  acted  for  some  time  unmolested  and 
with  Impunity.  After  a  Year  or  two,  this  Playhouse 
was  thought  a  N usance  too  near  the  City  :  Upon 
which  the  Lord-Mayor  and  Aldermen  petltion'd  the 
Crown  to  suppress  it :  What  Steps  were  taken  in 
favour  of  that  Petition  I  know  not,  but  common 
Fame  seem'd  to  allow,  from  what  had  or  had  not 
been  done  In  it,  that  acting  Plays  in  the  said  Theatre 
was  not  evidently  unlawful.^  However,  this  Ques- 
tion of  Acting  without  a  License  a  little  time  after 
came  to  a  nearer  Decision  In  Westminster- Hall ;  the 
Occasion  of  bringing  it  thither  was  this :  It  hap- 
pened that  the  Purchasers  of  the  Patent,  to  whom 

authors  did  not  seem  to  be  too  much  restrained,  since  the  court 
did  not  hinder  them  from  saying  all  the  ill  they  could  of  the 

" '  Intractable  as  the  populace  appear  in  this  country,  those  who 
know  how  to  take  hold  of  their  foibles,  may  easily  carry  their 
point.  Thus  is  the  liberty  of  the  stage  reduced  to  just  bounds, 
and  yet  the  English  pit  makes  no  farther  attempt  to  oppose  the 
new  regulation.  The  law  is  executed  without  the  least  trouble,  all 
the  plays  since  having  been  quietly  heard,  and  either  succeeded, 
or  not,  according  to  their  merit.' " 

See  article  in  Mr.  Archer's  "About  the  Theatre,"  p.  loi,  and 
Parliamentary  Reports,  1832  and  1866. 

^  The  theatre  in  Goodman's  Fields  was  opened  in  October, 
1729,  by  Thomas  Odell,  who  was  afterwards  Deputy  Licenser 
under  the  1737  Act.  Odell,  having  no  theatrical  experience, 
entrusted  the  management  to  Henry  Giffard.  Odell's  theatre 
seems  to  have  been  in  Leman  Street. 

^  I  can  find  no  hint  that  plays  were  ever  stopped  at  Odell's 
theatre.  There  is  a  pamphlet,  published  in  1730,  with  the  follow- 
ing title:   "A  Letter  to    the    Right  Honourable   Sir  Richard 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  283 

Mr.  Booth  and  Myself  had  sold  our  Shares/  were  at 
variance  with  the  Comedians  that  were  then  left  to 
their  Government,  and  the  Variance  ended  in  the 
chief  of  those  Comedians  deserting  and  setting  up 
for  themselves  in  the  little  House  in  the  Hay- 
Market,  in  1733,  by  which  Desertion  the  Patentees 
were  very  much  distressed  and  considerable  Losers. 
Their  Affairs  being  in  this  desperate  Condition,  they 
were  advis'd  to  put  the  Act  of  the  Twelfth  of  Queen 
Anne  against  Vagabonds  in  force  against  these 
Deserters,  then  acting  in  the  Hay-Market  without 
License.  Accordingly,  one  of  their  chief  Performers^ 
was  taken  from  the  Stage  by  a  Justice  of  Peace 
his  Warrant,  and  committed  to  Bridewell  as  one 
within  the  Penalty  of  the  said  Act.  When  the 
Legality  of  this  Commitment  was  disputed  in  West- 
minster-Hall,  by  all  I  could  observe  from  the  learned 
Pleadings  on  both  Sides  (for  I  had  the  Curiosity  to 

Brocas,  Lord  Mayor  of  London.  By  a  Citizen,"  which  demands 
the  closing  of  the  theatre,  but  I  do  not  suppose  any  practical 
result  followed.  In  1733  an  attempt  by  the  Patentees  of  Drury 
Lane  and  Covent  Garden  to  silence  Giffard's  Company,  then 
playing  at  his  new  theatre  in  Goodman's  Fields,  was  unsuccessful. 
This  theatre  was  in  Aylifife  Street. 

^  Half  of  Booth's  share  of  the  Patent  was  purchased  by  High- 
more,  who  also  bought  the  whole  of  Gibber's  share.  Giffard  was 
the  purchaser  of  the  remainder  of  Booth's  share. 

^  This  was  John  Harper.  Davies  ("  Life  of  Garrick,"  i.  40) 
says  that  "  The  reason  of  the  Patentees  fixing  on  Harper  was  in 
consequence  of  his  natural  timidity."  His  trial  was  on  the  20th 
November,  1733.  Harper  was  a  low  comedian  of  some  ability, 
but  of  no  great  note. 

284  THE    LIFE    OF 

hear  them)  it  did  not  appear  to  me  that  the  Come- 
dian so  committed  was  within  the  Description  of  the 
said  Act,  he  being  a  Housekeeper  and  having  a 
Vote  for  the  Westminster  Members  of  ParHament, 
He  was  discharged  accordingly,  and  conducted 
through  the  Hall  with  the  Congratulations  of  the 
Crowds  that  attended  and  wish'd  well  to  his  Cause. 

The  Issue  of  this  Trial  threw  me  at  that  time  into 
a  very  odd  Reflexion,  viz.  That  if  acting  Plays 
without  License  did  not  make  the  Performers  Vaga- 
bonds unless  they  wandered  from  their  Habitations 
so  to  do,  how  particular  was  the  Case  of  Us  three 
late  Menaging  Actors  at  the  Theatre- Royal,  who  in 
twenty  Years  before  had  paid  upon  an  Averidge  at 
least  Twenty  Thousand  Pounds  to  be  protected  (as 
Actors)  from  a  Law  that  has  not  since  appeared  to 
be  against  us.  Now,  whether  we  might  certainly 
have  acted  without  any  License  at  all  I  shall  not 
pretend  to  determine ;  but  this  I  have  of  my  own 
Knowledge  to  say,  That  in  Queen  Amines  Reign  the 
Stage  was  in  such  Confusion,  and  its  Affairs  in  such 
Distress,  that  Sir  John  Vanbrugk  and  Mr.  Congreve, 
after  they  had  held  it  about  one  Year,  threw  up  the 
Menagement  of  it  as  an  unprofitable  Post,  after 
which  a  License  for  Acting  was  not  thought  worth 
any  Gentleman's  asking  for,  and  almost  seem'd  to  go 
a  begging,  'till  some  time  after,  by  the  Care,  Appli- 
cation, and  Industry  of  three  Actors,  it  became  so 
prosperous,  and  the  Profits  so  considerable,  that  it 
created  a  new  Place,  and  a  Sine-cure  of  a  Thousand 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  285 

Pounds  a  Year/  which  the  Labour  of  those  Actors 
constantly  paid  to  such  Persons  as  had  from  time  to 
time  Merit  or  Interest  enough  to  get  their  Names  in- 
serted as  Fourth  Menagers  in  a  License  with  them 
for  acting  Plays,  6fc.  a  Preferment  that  many  a  Sir 
Francis  Wronghead  would  have  jump'd  at.^  But  to 
go  on  with  my  Story.  This  Endeavour  of  the 
Patentees  to  suppress  the  Comedians  acting  in  the 
Hay- Market  proving  ineffectual,  and  no  Hopes  of  a 
Reunion  then  appearing,  the  Remains  of  the  Com- 
pany left  in  Drury-Lane  were  reduced  to  a  very  low 
Condition.  At  this  time  a  third  Purchaser,  Charles 
Fleetwood,  Esq.,  stept  in  ;  who  judging  the  best  Time 
to  buy  was  when  the  Stock  was  at  the  lowest  Price, 
struck  up  a  Bargain  at  once  for  Five  Parts  in  Six  of 
the  Patent ;  ^  and,  at  the  same  time,  gave  the  revolted 
Comedians  their  own  Terms  to  return  and  come 
under  his  Government  in  Drury-Lane,  where  they 
now  continue  to  act  at  very  ample  Sallaries,  as  I  am 
informed,  in  1 738."*     But  (as  I  have  observ'd)  the  late 

^  Gibber  again  alludes  to  this  in  Chap.  XIII. 

^  Sir  Francis  Wronghead  is  a  character  in  "  The  Provoked  Hus- 
band," a  country  squire  who  comes  to  London  to  seek  a  place  at 
Court.  In  Act  iv.  Sir  Francis  relates  his  interview  with  a  certain 
great  man  :  "  Sir  Francis,  says  my  lord,  pray  what  sort  of  a  place 
may  you  ha'  turned  your  thoughts  upon  ?  My  lord,  says  I, 
beggars  must  not  be  chusers  ;  but  ony  place,  says  I,  about  a  thou- 
sand a-year,  will  be  well  enough  to  be  doing  with,  till  something 
better  falls  in — for  I  thowght  it  would  not  look  well  to  stond  hag- 
gling with  him  at  first." 

'  Giffard  seems  to  have  retained  his  sixth  part. 

*  Some  account  of  the  entire  dispute  between  Highmorc  and 
his  actors  will  be  found  in  my  Supplement  to  this  book. 

286  THE    LIFE    OF 

Cause  of  the  prosecuted  Comedian  having  gone  so 
strongly  in  his  Favour, and  the  House  in  Goodmans- 
Fields,  too,  continuing  to  act  with  as  little  Authority- 
unmolested  ;  these  so  tolerated  Companies  gave  En- 
couragement to  a  broken  Wit  to  collect  a  fourth 
Company,  who  for  some  time  acted  Plays  in  the 
Hay-Market,  which  House  the  united  Drury-Lane 
Comedians  had  lately  quitted :  This  enterprising 
Person,  I  say  (whom  I  do  not  chuse  to  name,^  unless 
it  could  be  to  his  Advantage,  or  that  it  were  of  Im- 
portance) had  Sense  enough  to  know  that  the  best 
Plays  with  bad  Actors  would  turn  but  to  a  very 
poor  Account ;  and  therefore  found  it  necessary  to 
give  the  Publick  some  Pieces  of  an  extraordinary 
Kind,  the  Poetry  of  which  he  conceiv'd  ought  to  be 
so  strong  that  the  greatest  Dunce  of  an  Actor  could 
not  spoil  it :  He  knew,  too,  that  as  he  was  in  haste  to 

^  This  "  broken  Wit "  was  Henry  Fielding,  between  whom  and 
Gibber  there  was  war  to  the  knife,  Fielding  taking  every  oppor- 
tunity of  mocking  at  Colley  and  attacking  his  works. 

Mr.  Austin  Dobson,  in  his  "  Fielding,"  page  66,  writes  :  "  When 
the  Champion  was  rather  more  than  a  year  old,  Colley  Gibber 
published  his  famous  Apology.  To  the  attacks  made  upon  him 
by  Fielding  at  different  times  he  had  hitherto  printed  no  reply — 
perhaps  he  had  no  opportunity  of  doing  so.  But  in  his  eighth 
chapter,  when  speaking  of  the  causes  which  led  to  the  Licensing 
Act,  he  takes  occasion  to  refer  to  his  assailant  in  terms  which 
Fielding  must  have  found  exceedingly  galling.  He  carefully  ab- 
stained from  mentioning  his  name,  on  the  ground  that  it  could  do 
him  no  good,  and  was  of  no  importance ;  but  he  described  him  as 
'  a  broken  Wit,' "  &c. 

Mr.  Dobson,  on  page  69,  gives  his  approval  to  the  theory  that 
"  Fielding  had  openly  expressed  resentment  at  being  described  by 
Gibber  as  '  a  broken  wit,'  without  being  mentioned  by  name." 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  287 

get  Money,  It  would  take  up  less  time  to  be  intrepidly 
abusive  than  decently  entertaining ;  that  to  draw  the 
Mob  after  him  he  must  rake  the  Channel  ^  and  pelt 
their  Superiors  ;  that,  to  shew  himself  somebody,  he 
must  come  up  to  JuvenaVs  Advice  and  stand  the 
Consequence : 

Aude  aliquid  brevibus  Gyaris,  <2f  carcere  dignum 
Si  vis  esse  aliquis Juv.  Sat.  I.'^ 

Such,  then,  was  the  mettlesome  Modesty  he  set  out 
with  ;  upon  this  Principle  he  produc'd  several  frank 
and  free  Farces  that  seem'd  to  knock  all  Distinctions 
of  Mankind  on  the  Head :  Religion,  Laws,  Govern- 
ment, Priests,  Judges,  and  Ministers,  were  all  laid 
flat  at  the  Feet  of  this  Herculean  Satyrist !  This 
Drawcansir  in  Wit,'  that  spared  neither  Friend  nor 
Foe !  who  to  make  his  Poetical  Fame  immortal,  like 
another  Erostratus,  set  Fire  to  his  Stage  by  writing 
up  to  an  Act  of  Parliament  to  demolish  it.^     I  shall 

^  The  use  of  "channel,"  meaning  "gutter,"  is  obsolete  in  Eng- 
land ;  but  I  am  sure  that  I  have  heard  it  used  in  that  sense 
in  Scotland.  Shakespeare  in  "  King  Henry  the  Sixth,"  third  part, 
act  ii.  sc.  2,  has, 

"  As  if  a  channel  should  be  called  the  sea." 

And  in  Marlowe's  "  Edward  the  Second,"  act  i.  sc.  i,  occur  the 
lines : — 

"  Throw  off  his  golden  mitre,  rend  his  stole, 
And  in  the  channel  christen  him  anew." 
*  Juvenal,  i,  73. 

'  Mr.   Dobson   ("Fielding,"   page  67)    says:    "He   [Gibber] 
called  him,  either  in  allusion  to  his  stature,  or  his  pseudonym  in 
the  C/iajiipion,  a  'Herculean  Satyrist,'  a  ' Drmacansir  in  Wit.'" 
■*  Fielding's  political  satires,  in  such  pieces  as  "  Pascjuin  "  and 

288  THE    LIFE    OF 

not  give  the  particular  Strokes  of  his  Ingenuity  a 
Chance  to  be  remembred  by  reciting  them ;  it  may 
be  enough  to  say,  in  general  Terms,  they  were  so 
openly  flagrant,  that  the  Wisdom  of  the  Legislature 
thought  it  high  time  to  take  a  proper  Notice  of 

Having  now  shewn  by  what  means  there  came 
to  be  four  Theatres,  besides  a  fifth  for  Operas,  in 
London,  all  open  at  the  same  time,  and  that  while 
they  were  so  numerous  it  was  evident  some  of  them 
must  have  starv'd  unless  they  fed  upon  the  Trash 
and  Filth  of  Buffbonry  and  Licentiousness;  I  now 
come,  as  I  promis'd,  to  speak  of  that  necessary  Law 
which  has  reduced  their  Number  and  prevents  the 
Repetition  of  such  Abuses  in  those  that  remain  open 
for  the  Publick  Recreation. 

"  The  Historical  Register  for  1736,"  contributed  largely  to  the  pass- 
ing of  the  Act  of  1737,  although  "The  Golden  Rump"  was  the 
ostensible  cause. 

^  Fielding,  in  the  "Champion  "  for  Tuesday,  April  22nd,  1740, 
says  of  Gibber's  refusal  to  quote  from  "  Pasquin  " — ■'■'■  the  good 
Parent  seems  to  imagine  that  he  hath  produced,  as  well  as  my 
Lord  Clarendon,  a  Kr^jua  iq  dal ;  for  he  refuses  to  quote  anything 
out  oi  Pasqiim,  lest  he  should  ^zW  it  a  chance  of  being  reme7Tibered" 

Mr.  Dobson  ("  Fielding,"  page  69)  says  Fielding  "never  seems 
to  have  wholly  forgotten  his  animosity  to  the  actor,  to  whom  there 
are  frequent  references  va  Joseph  Andrews ;  and,  as  late  as  1749, 
he  is  still  found  harping  on  '  the  withered  laurel '  in  a  letter  to 
Lyttelton.  Even  in  his  last  work,  the  Voyage  to  Lisbon,  Gibber's 
name  is  mentioned.  The  origin  of  this  protracted  feud  is  obscure  ; 
but,  apart  from  want  of  sympathy,  it  must  probably  be  sought  for 
in  some  early  misunderstanding  between  the  two  in  their  capaci- 
ties of  manager  and  author." 


MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  289 

While  this  Law  was  in  Debate  a  lively  Spirit  and 
uncommon  Eloquence  was  employ'd  against  it.^  It 
was  urg'd  That  07ie  of  the  greatest  Goods  we  can 
enjoy  is  Liberty.  (This  we  may  grant  to  be  an  incon- 
testable Truth,  without  its  being  the  least  Objection  to 
this  Law.)  It  was  said,  too,  That  to  bring  the  Stage 
under  the  Restraint  of  a  Licenser  was  leading  the  way 
to  an  Attack  upon  the  Liberty  of  the  Press.  This 
amounts  but  to  a  Jealousy  at  best,  which  I  hope  and 
believe  all  honest  Englishmen  have  as  much  Reason 
to  think  a  groundless,  as  to  fear  it  is  a  just  Jealousy: 
For  the  Stage  and  the  Press,  I  shall  endeavour  to 
shew,  are  very  different  Weapons  to  wound  with.  If 
a  great  Man  could  be  no  more  injured  by  being  per- 
sonally ridicul'd  or  made  contemptible  in  a  Play, 
than  by  the  same  Matter  only  printed  and  read  against 
him  in  a  Pamphlet  or  the  strongest  Verse ;  then, 
indeed,  the  Stage  and  the  Press  might  pretend  to  be 
upon  an  equal  Foot  of  Liberty :  But  when  the  wide 
Difference  between  these  two  Liberties  comes  to  be 
explain'd  and  consider'd,  I  dare  say  we  shall  find 
the  Injuries  from  one  capable  of  being  ten  times 
more  severe  and  formidable  than  from  the  other : 
Let  us  see,  at  least,  if  the  Case  will  not  be  vastly 
alter'd.  Read  what  Mr.  Collier  in  his  Defence oi\\\s 
Short  View  of  the  Stage,  &.c.  Page  25,  says  to  this 
Point ;  he  sets  this  Difference  in  a  clear  Light.  These 
are  his  Words : 

»  By  Lord  Chcsterfiekl. 

290  THE   LIFE   OF 

"  The  Satyr  of  a  Comediaii  and  another  Poet,  have 
"  a  different  effect  upon  Reputation.  A  Character 
"  of  Disadvantage  upon  the  Stage,  makes  a  stronger 
"  Impression  than  elsewhere.  Reading  is  but  Hear- 
*'  Ing  at  the  second  Hand ;  Now  Hearing  at  the  best, 
**  is  a  more  languid  Conveyance  than  Sight.  For  as 
**  Ho7'ace  observes, 

Segnius  irritant  aninios  demissa  per  aure7n, 
Qtiam  qucB  sunt  oculis  subjeda  fidelibus} 

"  The  Eye  is  much  more  affecting,  and  strikes 
"  deeper  into  the  Memory  than  the  Ear.  Besides, 
"  Upon  the  Stage  both  the  Senses  are  In  Conjunc- 
"  tlon.  The  Life  of  the  Action  fortifies  the  Object, 
"  and  awakens  the  Mind  to  take  hold  of  it.  Thus 
"  a  dramatick  Abuse  Is  rivetted  in  the  Audience,  a 
"  Jest  is  Improv'd  into  an  Argument,  and  Rallying 
"  grows  up  into  Reason':  Thus  a  Character  of  Scandal 
"  becomes  almost  indelible,  a  Man  goes  for  a  Block- 
"  head  upon  Content ;  and  he  that's  made  a  Fool  In 
"  a  Play,  is  often  made  one  for  his  Life-time.  'Tis 
**  true  he  passes  for  such  only  among  the  prejudiced 
"  and  unthinking ;  but  these  are  no  inconsiderable 
**  Division  of  Mankind.  For  these  Reasons,  I  humbly 
"  conceive  the  Stage  stands  in  need  of  a  great  deal 
"  of  Discipline  and  Restraint :  To  give  them  an  un- 
*'  limited  Range,  Is  in  effect  to  make  them  Masters 
"  of  all  Moral  Distinctions,  and  to  lay  Honour  and 
"  Religion  at  their  Mercy.     To  shew  Greatness  rldi- 

^  Horace,  Ars  Foetica,  180. 

MR,    COLLEY   GIBBER.  29 1 

"  culous,  is  the  way  to  lose  the  use,  and  abate  the 
"  vakie  of  the  QuaHty.  Things  made  Httle  in  jest, 
"  will  soon  be  so  in  earnest :  for  Laughing  and 
"  Esteem,  are  seldom  bestow'd  on  the  same  Object." 
If  this  was  Truth  and  Reason  (as  sure  it  was) 
forty  Years  ago,  will  it  not  carry  the  same  Conviction 
with  it  to  these  Days,  when  there  came  to  be  a  much 
stronger  Call  for  a  Reformation  of  the  Stage,  than 
when  this  Author  wrote  against  it,  or  perhaps  than 
was  ever  known  since  the  E^iglish  Stage  had  a  Being  ? 
And  now  let  us  ask  another  Question !  Does  not 
the  general  Opinion  of  Mankind  suppose  that  the 
Honour  and  Reputation  of  a  Minister  is,  or  ought 
to  be,  as  dear  to  him  as  his  Life  .'*  Yet  when  the 
Law,  in  Queen  Annes  Time,  had  made  even  an 
unsuccessful  Attempt  upon  the  Life  of  a  Minister 
capital,  could  any  Reason  be  found  that  the  Fame 
and  Honour  of  his  Character  should  not  be  under 
equal  Protection  .^  Was  the  Wound  that  Guiscard 
gave  to  the  late  Lord  Oxford,  when  a  Minister,^  a 
greater  Injury  than  the  Theatrical  Insult  which  was 
offer'd  to  a  later  Minister,  in  a  more  valuable  Part, 
his  Character  }  Was  it  not  as  high  time,  then,  to 
take  this  dangerous  Weapon  of  mimical  Insolence 
and  Defamation  out  of  the  Hands  of  a  mad  Poet, 
as  to  wrest  the  Knife  from  the  lifted  Hand  of  a 
Murderer  ?  And  is  not  that  Law  of  a  milder  Nature 
which  prevents  a  Crime,  than  that  which  punishes  it 
after  it  is  committed  ?  May  not  one  think  it  amazing 
*  Guiscard's  attack  on  Harley  occurred  in  171 1. 

292  THE    LIFE    OF 

that  the  Liberty  of  defaming  lawful  Power  and 
Dignity  should  have  been  so  eloquently  contended 
for  ?  or  especially  that  this  Liberty  ought  to  triumph 
in  a  Theatre,  where  the  most  able,  the  most  innocent, 
and  most  upright  Person  must  himself  be,  while  the 
Wound  is  given,  defenceless  ?  How  long  must  a 
Man  so  injur'd  lie  bleeding  before  the  Pain  and 
Anguish  of  his  Fame  (if  it  suffers  wrongfully)  can 
be  dispell'd  ?  or  say  he  had  deserv'd  Reproof  and 
publick  Accusation,  yet  the  Weight  and  Greatness 
of  his  Office  never  can  deserve  it  from  a  publick 
Stage,  where  the  lowest  Malice  by  sawcy  Parallels 
and  abusive  Inuendoes  may  do  every  thing  but  name 
him  :  But  alas  !  Liberty  is  so  tender,  so  chaste  a 
Virgin,  that  it  seems  not  to  suffer  her  to  do  irreparable 
Injuries  with  Impunity  is  a  Violation  of  her  !  It 
cannot  sure  be  a  Principle  of  Liberty  that  would 
turn  the  Stage  into  a  Court  of  Enquiry,  that  would 
let  the  partial  Applauses  of  a  vulgar  Audience  give 
Sentence  upon  the  Conduct  of  Authority,  and  put 
Impeachments  into  the  Mouth  of  a  Harlequin? 
Will  not  every  impartial  Man  think  that  Malice, 
Envy,  Faction,  and  Mis-rule,  might  have  too  much 
Advantage  over  lawful  Power,  if  the  Range  of  such 
a  Stage- Liberty  were  unlimited  and  insisted  on  to 
be  enroll'd  among  the  glorious  Rights  of  an  English 
Subject  ? 

I  remember  much  such  another  ancient  Liberty, 
which  many  of  the  good  People  of  England  were 
once  extremely  fond  of;   I   mean  that  of  throwing 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  293 

Squibs  and  Crackers  at  all  Spectators  without  Dis- 
tinction upon  a  Lord-Mayor's  Day  ;  but  about  forty 
Years  ago  a  certain  Nobleman  happening  to  have 
one  of  his  Eyes  burnt  out  by  this  mischievous  Merri- 
ment, it  occasion'd  a  penal  Law  to  prevent  those 
Sorts  of  Jests  from  being  laugh'd  at  for  the  future : 
Yet  I  have  never  heard  that  the  most  zealous  Patriot 
ever  thought  such  a  Law  was  the  least  Restraint 
upon  our  Liberty. 

If  I  am  ask'd  why  I  am  so  voluntary  a  Champion 
for  the  Honour  of  this  Law  that  has  limited  the 
Number  of  Play- Houses,  and  which  now  can  no 
longer  concern  me  as  a  Professor  of  the  Stage  ?  I 
reply,  that  it  being  a  Law  so  nearly  relating  to  the 
Theatre,  it  seems  not  at  all  foreign  to  my  History  to 
have  taken  notice  of  it ;  and  as  I  have  farther  pro- 
mised to  give  the  Publick  a  true  Portrait  of  my 
Mind,  I  ought  fairly  to  let  them  see  how  far  I  am, 
or  am  not,  a  Blockhead,  when  I  pretend  to  talk  of 
serious  Matters  that  may  be  judg'd  so  far  above  my 
Capacity :  Nor  will  it  in  the  least  discompose  me 
whether  my  Observations  are  contemn'd  or  applauded. 
A  Blockhead  is  not  always  an  unhappy  Fellow,  and 
if  the  World  will  not  flatter  us,  we  can  flatter  our- 
selves ;  perhaps,  too,  it  will  be  as  difficult  to  convince 
us  we  are  in  the  wrong,  as  that  you  wiser  Gentlemen 
are  one  Tittle  the  better  for  your  Knowledge.  It  is 
yet  a  Question  with  me  whether  we  weak  Heads  have 
not  as  much  Pleasure,  too,  in  giving  our  shallow 
Reason  a  little  Exercise,  as  those  clearer  Brains  have 

294  '^^^^  L^^^  ^^ 

that  are  allow'd  to  dive  into  the  deepest  Doubts  and 
Mysteries  ;  to  reflect  or  form  a  Judgment  upon  re- 
markable things  />asl  is  as  deHghtful  to  me  as  it  is  to 
the  gravest  Politician  to  penetrate  into  what  is  present, 
or  to  enter  into  Speculations  upon  what  is,  or  is  not 
likely  to  come.  Why  are  Histories  written,  if  all 
Men  are  not  to  judge  of  them  ?  Therefore,  if  my 
Reader  has  no  more  to  do  than  I  have,  I  have  a 
Chance  for  his  being  as  willing  to  have  a  little  more 
upon  the  same  Subject  as  I  am  to  give  it  him. 

When  direct  Arguments  against  this  Bill  were 
found  too  weak,  Recourse  was  had  to  dissuasive 
ones  :  It  was  said  that  this  Restraint  up07i  the  Stage 
would  not  remedy  the  Evil  complain  d  of:  That  a 
Play  refusd  to  be  licensed  would  still  be  printed,  with 
double  Advantage,  when  it  should  be  insinuated  that  it 
was  refused  for  some  Strokes  of  Wit,  &c.  and  would 
be  mo7'e  likely  then  to  have  its  Effect  among  the  People. 
However  natural  this  Consequence  may  seem,  I 
doubt  it  will  be  very  difficult  to  give  a  printed  Satyr 
or  Libel  half  the  Force  or  Credit  of  an  acted  one. 
The  most  artful  or  notorious  Lye  or  strain'd  Allusion 
that  ever  slander'd  a  great  Man,  may  be  read  by 
some  People  with  a  Smile  of  Contempt,  or,  at  worst, 
it  can  impose  but  on  one  Person  at  once  :  but  when 
the  Words  of  the  same  plausible  Stuff  shall  be  re- 
peated on  a  Theatre,  the  Wit  of  it  among  a  Crowd 
of  Hearers  is  liable  to  be  over-valued,  and  may  unite 
and  warm  a  whole  Body  of  the  Malicious  or  Ignorant 
into  a  Plaudit ;  nay,  the  partial  Claps  of  only  twenty 

MR.   COLLEY    GIBBER.  295 

ill-minded  Persons  among  several  hundreds  of  silent 
Hearers  shall,  and  often  have  been,  mistaken  for  a 
general  Approbation,  and  frequently  draw  into  their 
Party  the  Indifferent  or  Inapprehensive,  who  rather 
than  be  thought  not  to  understand  the  Conceit,  will 
laugh  with  the  Laughers  and  join  in  the  Triumph  ! 
But  alas !  the  quiet  Reader  of  the  same  ingenious 
Matter  can  only  like  for  himself;  and  the  Poison  has 
a  much  slower  Operation  upon  the  Body  of  a  People 
when  it  is  so  retail'd  out,  than  when  sold  to  a  full 
Audience  by  wholesale.  The  single  Reader,  too, 
may  happen  to  be  a  sensible  or  unprejudiced  Person ; 
and  then  the  merry  Dose,  meeting  with  the  Antidote 
of  a  sound  Judgment,  perhaps  may  have  no  Operation 
at  all :  With  such  a  one  the  Wit  of  the  most  ingenious 
Satyr  will  only  by  its  intrinsick  Truth  or  Value 
gain  upon  his  Approbation ;  or  if  it  be  worth  an 
Answer,  a  printed  Falshood  may  possibly  be  con- 
founded by  printed  Proofs  against  it.  But  against 
Contempt  and  Scandal,  heighten'd  and  colour'd  by 
the  Skill  of  an  Actor  ludicrously  infusing  it  into  a 
Multitude,  there  is  no  immediate  Defence  to  be 
made  or  equal  Reparation  to  be  had  for  it;  for  it 
would  be  but  a  poor  Satisfaction  at  last,  after  lying 
long  patient  under  the  Injury,  that  Time  only  is  to 
shew  (which  would  probably  be  the  Case)  that  the 
Author  of  it  was  a  desperate  Indigent  that  did  it  for 
Bread.  How  much  less  dangerous  or  offensive,  then, 
is  the  written  than  the  acted  Scandal  .-*  The  Impres- 
sion the  Comedian  gives  to  it  is  a  kind  of  double 

296  THE  LIFE   OF 

Stamp  upon  the  Poet's  Paper,  that  raises  it  to  ten 
times  the  intrinsick  Value.  Might  we  not  strengthen 
this  Argument,  too,  even  by  the  Eloquence  that 
seem'd  to  have  opposed  this  Law  ?  I  will  say  for 
my  self,  at  least,  that  when  I  came  to  read  the  printed 
Arguments  against  it,  I  could  scarce  believe  they  were 
the  same  that  had  amaz'd  and  raised  such  Admiration 
in  me  when  they  had  the  Advantage  of  a  lively 
Elocution,  and  of  that  Grace  and  Spirit  which  gave 
Strength  and  Lustre  to  them  in  the  Delivery ! 

Upon  the  whole  ;  if  the  Stage  ought  ever  to  have 
been  reform'd ;  if  to  place  a  Power  somewhere  of 
restraining  its  Immoralities  was  not  inconsistent  with 
the  Liberties  of  a  civiliz'd  People  (neither  of  which, 
sure,  any  moral  Man  of  Sense  can  dispute)  might  it 
not  have  shewn  a  Spirit  too  poorly  prejudiced,  to 
have  rejected  so  rational  a  Law  only  because  the 
Honour  and  Office  of  a  Minister  might  happen,  in 
some  small  Measure,  to  be  protected  by  it.^ 

But  however  little  Weight  there  may  be  in  the 
Observations  I  have  made  upon  it,  I  shall,  for  my 
own  Part,  always  think  them  just ;  unless  I  should 
live  to  see  (which  I  do  not  expect)  some  future  Set 
of  upright  Ministers  use  their  utmost  Endeavours  to 
repeal  it. 

*  Genest  (iii.  521)  remarks,  "  If  the  power  of  the  Licenser  had 
been  laid  under  proper  regulations^  all  would  have  been  right." 
The  whole  objection  to  the  Licenser  is  simply  that  he  is  under  no 
regulations  whatever.  He  is  a  perfectly  irresponsible  authority, 
and  one  from  whose  decisions  there  is  no  appeal. 


And  now  we  have  seen  the  Consequence  of  what 
many  People  are  apt  to  contend  for,  Variety  of  Play- 
houses !  How  was  it  possible  so  many  could  honestly 
subsist  on  what  was  fit  to  be  seen  ?  Their  extra- 
ordinary Number,  of  Course,  reduc'd  them  to  live 
upon  the  Gratification  of  such  Hearers  as  they  knew 
would  be  best  pleased  with  publick  Offence ;  and 
publick  Offence,  of  what  kind  soever,  will  always  be 
a  orood  Reason  for  makiuQ^  Laws  to  restrain  it. 

To  conclude,  let  us  now  consider  this  Law  in  a 
quite  different  Light ;  let  us  leave  the  political  Part 
of  it  quite  out  of  the  Question  ;  what  Advantage 
could  either  the  Spectators  of  Plays  or  the  Masters 
of  Play-houses  have  gain'd  by  its  having  never  been 
made  ?  How  could  the  same  Stock  of  Plays  supply 
four  Theatres,  which  (without  such  additional  Enter- 
tainments as  a  Nation  of  common  Sense  ought  to  be 
ashamed  of)  could  not  well  support  two  ?  Satiety 
must  have  been  the  natural  Consequence  of  the 
same  Plays  being  twice  as  often  repeated  as  now 
they  need  be ;  and  Satiety  puts  an  End  to  all  Tastes 
that  the  Mind  of  Man  can  delight  in.  Had  therefore 
this  Law  been  made  seven  Years  ago,  I  should  not 
have  parted  with  my  Share  in  the  Patent  under  a 

thousand  Pounds  more  than  I  received  for  it^ So 

that,  as  far  as  I  am  able  to  judge,  both  the  Publick 
as  Spectators,  and   the  Patentees  as   Undertakers, 

^  Gibber  received  three  thousand  guineas  from  Highmore  for 
his  share  in  the  Patent.     (See  Victor's  "  History,"  i.  8). 

298  THE    LIFE   OF    MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER. 

are,  or  might  be,  in  a  way  of  being  better  entertain'd 
and  more  considerable  Gainers  by  it. 

I  now  return  to  the  State  of  the  Stage,  where  I 
left  it,  about  the  Year  1697,  from  whence  this  Pursuit 
of  its  ImmoraHties  has  led  me  farther  than  I  first 
design'd  to  have  follow'd  it. 

CHAPTER  IX.       . 

A  small  Apology  for  writing  on.  The  different  State  of  t/ie  two 
Compajiies.  Wilks  invited  over  from  Dublin.  Estcourt,  from 
the  same  Stage,  the  Winter  following.  Mrs.  OldfieldV  first 
Admission  to  the  Theatre-Royal.  Her  Character.  The  great 
Theatre  in  the  Hay- Market  built  for  Betterton'j-  Company.  It 
Anszaers  not  their  Expectation.  Some  Observations  upon  it.  A 
Theatrical  State  Secret. 

I  NOW  begin  to  doubt  that  the  Gayetd  du  Cosiir 
in  which  I  first  undertook  this  Work  may  have 
drawn  me  into  a  more  laborious  Amusement  than  I 
shall  know  how  to  away  with  :  For  though  I  cannot 
say  I  have  yet  jaded  my  Vanity,  it  is  not  impossible 
but  by  this  time  the  most  candid  of  my  Readers  may 
want  a  little  Breath  ;  especially  when  they  consider 

300  THE    LIFE    OF 

that  all  this  Load  I  have  heap'd  upon  their  Patience 
contains  but  seven  Years  of  the  forty  three  I  pass'd 
upon  the  Stage,  the  History  of  which  Period  I  have 
enjoyn'd  my  self  to  transmit  to  the  Judgment  (or 
Oblivion)  of  Posterity/  However,  even  my  Dulness 
will  find  somebody  to  do  it  right ;  if  my  Reader  is 
an  ill-natur'd  one,  he  will  be  as  much  pleased  to  find 
me  a  Dunce  in  my  old  Age  as  possibly  he  may  have 
been  to  prove  me  a  brisk  Blockhead  in  my  Youth  : 
But  if  he  has  no  Gall  to  gratify,  and  would  (for  his 
simple  Amusement)  as  well  know  how  the  Play- 
houses went  on  forty  Years  ago  as  how  they  do  now, 
I  will  honestly  tell  him  the  rest  of  my  Story  as  well 
as  I  can.  Lest  therefore  the  frequent  Digressions 
that  have  broke  in  upon  it  may  have  entangled  his 
Memory,  I  must  beg  leave  just  to  throw  together  the 
Heads  of  what  I  have  already  given  him,  that  he 
may  again  recover  the  Clue  of  my  Discourse. 

Let  him  then  remember,  from  the  Year  1660  to 
1682,^  the  various  Fortune  of  the  (then)  King's  and 
Duke's  two  famous  Companies  ;  their  being  reduced 
to  one  united ;  the  Distinct  Characters  I  have  given 

^  "The  Laureat,"  page  72  :  "Indeed,  Laurent,  notwithstanding 
what  thou  may'st  dream  of  the  Immortality  of  this  Work  of  thine, 
and  bestowing  the  same  on  thy  Favourites  by  recording  them 
here  ;  thou  mayst,  old  as  thou  art,  live  to  see  thy  precious  Labours 
become  the  vile  Wrappers  of  Pastry-Grocers  and  Chandlery 
Wares."  The  issue  of  the  present  edition  of  Gibber's  "Apology" 
is  sufficient  commentary  on  "The  Laureat's"  ill-natured  pro- 

''  Gibber  prints  1684,  repeating  his  former  blunder.    (See  p.  96.) 


of  thirteen  Actors,  which  in  the  Year  1690  were  the 
most  famous  then  remaining  of  them ;  the  Cause  of 
their  being  again  divided  in  1695,  and  the  Conse- 
quences of  that  Division  'till   1697  ;  from  whence  I 

shall  lead  them  to  our  Second  Union  in Hold ! 

let  me  see ay,  it  was  in  that  memorable  Year 

when  the  two  Kingdoms  of  England  and  Scotland 
were  made  one.  And  I  remember  a  Particular  that 
confirms  me  I  am  right  in  my  Chronology ;  for  the 
Play  of  Hamlet  being  acted  soon  after,  Estcourty 
who  then  took  upon  him  to  say  any  thing,  added  a 
fourth  Line  to  Skakespears  Prologue  to  the  Play,  in 
that  Play  which  originally  consisted  but  of  three,  but 
Estcourt  made  it  run  thus  : 

For  Us,  and  for  our  Tragedy, 
Here  stooping  to  your  Clemency, 
[This  being  a  Year  of  Unity,] 
We  beg  your  Hearing  patiently} 
This  new  Chronological  Line  coming  unexpectedly 
upon   the  Audience,  was  received  with  Applause, 
tho'   several   grave    Faces   look'd   a    little    out    of 
Humour  at  it.     However,  by  this  Fact,  it  is  plain 
our  Theatrical  Union  happen'd  in    1707.^     But  to 
speak  of  it  in  its  Place  I  must  go  a  little  back  again. 

'  The  first  play  acted  by  the  United  Company  was  "  Hamlet." 
In  this  Estcourt  is  cast  for  the  Gravedigger,  so  that  if  Gibber's 
anecdote  is  accurate,  as  no  doubt  it  is,  Estcourt  must  have 
"  doubled  "  the  Gravedigger  and  the  speaker  of  the  Prologue. 

^  The  first  edition  reads  "  1 708,"  and  in  the  next  chapter  Gibber 
says  1708.  In  point  of  fact,  the  first  performance  by  the  United 
Gompany  took  place  15th  January,  1 708.    This  docs  not  make  Est- 

302  THE   LIFE   OF 

From  1697  to  this  Union  both  Companies  went 
on  without  any  memorable  Change  in  their  Affairs, 
unless  it  were  that  Bettertoiis  People  (however  good 
in  their  Kind)  were  most  of  them  too  far  advanc'd  in 
Years  to  mend ;  and  tho'  we  in  Dru7y-Lane  were 
too  young  to  be  excellent,  we  were  not  too  old  to  be 
better.  But  what  will  not  Satiety  depreciate  ?  For 
though  I  must  own  and  avow  that  in  our  highest 
Prosperity  I  always  thought  we  were  greatly  their 
Inferiors  ;  yet,  by  our  good  Fortune  of  being  seen  in 
quite  new  Lights,  which  several  new-written  Plays 
had  shewn  us  in,  we  now  began  to  make  a  consi- 
derable Stand  against  them.  One  good  new  Play  to 
a  rising  Company  is  of  inconceivable  Value.  In 
Oroonoko  ^  (and  why  may  I  not  name  another,  tho' 
it  be  my  own  ?)  in  Loves  last  Shift,  and  in  the  Sequel 
of  it,  the  Relapse,  several  of  our  People  shew'd  them- 
selves in  a  new  Style  of  Acting,  in  which  Nature  had 
not  as  yet  been  seen.  I  cannot  here  forget  a  Mis- 
fortune that  befel  our  Society  about  this  time,  by 
the  loss  of  a  young  Actor,  Hildebrand  Hordenf  who 

court's  "gag"  incorrect,  for  though  we  now  should  not  consider 
May,  1707,  and  the  following  January  in  the  same  year,  yet  up  to 
1752,  when  the  style  was  changed  in  England,  they  were  so. 

^  Southeme's  "Oroonoko"  was  produced  at  Drury  Lane  in 

^  Of  Horden  we  know  little  more  than  Gibber  tells  us.  He 
seems  to  have  been  on  the  stage  only  for  a  year  or  two ;  and 
during  1696  only,  at  Drury  Lane,  does  his  name  appear  to  impor- 
tant parts.  Davies  ("Dram.  Misc.,"  iii.  443)  says  Horden  "was 
bred  a  Scholar  :  he  complimented  George  Powell,  in  a  Latin  enco- 
mium on  his  Treacherous  Brothers." 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  3O3 

was  klU'd  at  the  Bar  of  the  Rose-Tavern}  in  a  frivo- 
lous, rash,  accidental  Quarrel ;  for  which  a  late  Resi- 
dent at  Venice,  Colonel  Burgess,  and  several  other 
Persons  of  Distinction,  took  their  Tryals,  and  were 
acquitted.  This  young  Man  had  almost  every  na- 
tural Gift  that  could  promise  an  excellent  Actor ;  he 
had  besides  a  good  deal  of  Table-wit  and  Humour, 
with  a  handsome  Person,  and  was  every  Day  rising 

"The  London  News-Letter,"  20th  May,  1696,  says:  "On 
Monday  Capt.  Surges  who  kill'd  Mr.  Fane,  and  was  found  guilty 
of  Manslaughter  at  the  Old  Baily,  kill'd  Mr.  Harding  a  Come- 
dian in  a  Quarrel  at  the  Rose  Tavern  in  Hattoti  [should  be 
Cove}it\  Gardeji,  and  is  taken  into  custody." 

In  "Luttrell's  Diary,"  onjTuesday,  19th  May,  1696,  is  noted: 
"  Captain  Burgesse,  convicted  last  sessions  of  manslaughter  for 
killing  Mr.  Fane,  is  committed  to  the  Gatehouse  for  killing  Mr. 
Horden,  of  the  Playhouse,  last  night  in  Covent  Garden." 

And  on  Tuesday,  30th  November,  1697,  "Captain  Burgesse,  who 
killed  Mr.  Horden  the  player,  has  obtained  his  majesties  pardon." 

^  This  tavern  seems  to  have  been  very  near  Drury  Lane 
Theatre,  and  to  have  been  a  favourite  place  of  resort  after  the 
play.  In  the  Epilogue  to  the  "Constant  Couple"  the  Rose 
Tavern  is  mentioned  : — 

"  Now  all  depart,  each  his  respective  way, 
To  spend  an  evening's  chat  upon  the  play ; 
Some  to  Hippolito's ;  one  homeward  goes. 
And  one  with  loving  she,  retires  to  th'  Rose." 

In  the  "Comparison  between  the  two  Stages"  one  scene  is 
laid  in  the  Rose  Tavern,  and  from  it  we  gather  that  the  house  was 
of  a  very  bad  character  : — 

"  Ra7nb.  Defend  us  !  what  a  hurry  of  Sin  is  in  this  House  ! 

Sull.  Drunkenness,  which  is  the  proper  Iniquity  of  a  Tavern,  is 
here  the  most  excusable  Sin ;  so  many  other  Sins  over-run  it,  'tis 

hardly  seen  in  the  crowd. 

Sull.  This  House  is  the  very  Camp  of  Sin ;  the  Devil  sets  up 

304  THE    LIFE    OF 

into  publick  Favour.     Before  he  was  bury'd,  it  was 
observable  that  two  or  three  Days  together  several 
of  the  Fair  Sex,  well  dress'd,  came  in  Masks  (then 
frequently  worn)  and  some  in  their  own  Coaches,  to 
visit  this  Theatrical  Heroe  in  his  Shrowd.     He  was 
the  elder  Son  of  Dr.  Horden,  Minister  of  Twicken- 
ham, in  Middlesex.     But  this  Misfortune  was  soon 
repair'd  by  the  Return  of  Wilks  from  Dicblin  (who 
upon  this   young  Man's   Death  was  sent  for  over) 
and   liv'd   long   enough    among   us    to  enjoy    that 
Approbation  from  which  the  other,  was  so  unhappily 
cut  off.    The  Winter  following,^  Estcourt,  the  famous 
Mimick,  of  whom  I  have  already  spoken,  had  the 
same  Invitation  from  Ireland,  where  he  had  com- 
menc'd  Actor:    His  first  Part  here,  at  the  Theatre- 
Royal,  was  the  Spanish  Friar,  in  which,  tho'  he  had 
remembred   every  Look   and    Motion   of  the   late 
Tony  Leigh  so  far  as  to   put  the   Spectator  very 

his  black  Standard  in  the  Faces  of  these  hungry  Harlots,  and  to 
enter  into  their  Trenches  is  going  down  to  the  Bottomless  Pit 
according  to  the  letter." — Comp.,  p.  140. 

Pepys  mentions  the  Rose  more  than  once.  On  i8th  May,  1668, 
the  first  day  of  Sedley's  play,  "  The  Mulberry  Garden,"  the  diarist^ 
having  secured  his  place  in  the  pit,  and  feeling  hungry,  "  did  slip 
out,  getting  a  boy  to  keep  my  place ;  and  to  the  Rose  Tavern,  and 
there  got  half  a  breast  of  mutton,  off  the  spit,  and  dined  all  alone. 
And  so  to  the  play  again." 

^  Gibber's  chronology  cannot  be  reconciled  with  what  we  believe 
to  be  facts.  Horden  was  killed  in  1696;  Wilks  seems  to  have 
come  to  England  not  earlier  than  the  end  of  1698,  while  it  is,  I 
should  say,  certain  that  Estcourt  did  not  appear  before  1704.  I 
can  only  suppose  that  Gibber,  who  is  very  reckless  in  his  dates, 
is  here  particularly  confused. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  305 

much  in  mind  of  him,  yet  it  was  visible  through  the 
whole,  notwithstanding  his  Exactness  in  the  Out- 
lines, the  true  Spirit  that  was  to  fill  up  the  Figure 
was  not  the  same,  but  unskilfully  dawb'd  on,  like  a 
Child's  Painting  upon  the  ¥ dico.  o{  ?i  Mefzo-tinto :  It 
was  too  plain  to  the  judicious  that  the  Conception 
was  not  his  own,  but  imprinted  in  his  Memory  by 
another,  of  whom  he  only  presented  a  dead  Like- 
ness.^ But  these  were  Defects  not  so  obvious  to 
common  Spectators ;  no  wonder,  therefore,  if  by  his 
being  much  sought  after  in  private  Companies,  he 
met  with  a  sort  of  Indulgence,  not  to  say  Partiality, 
for  what  he  sometimes  did  upon  the  Stage. 

In  the  Year  1699,  Mrs.  Oldfield  was  first  taken 
into  the  House,  where  she  remain'd  about  a  Twelve- 
month almost  a  Mute^  and  unheeded,  'till  Sir  John 
Vanbrugh,  who  first  recommended  her,  gave  her  the 
Part  of  Alinda  in  the  Pilgrim  revis'd.  This  gentle 
Character  happily  became  that  want  of  Confidence 
which  is  inseparable  from  young  Beginners,  who, 
without  it,  seldom  arrive  to  any  Excellence  :  Not- 
withstanding, I  own  I  was  then  so  far  deceiv'd  in  my 
Opinion  of  her,  that  I  thought  she  had  little  more 
than  her  Person  that  appear'd  necessary  to  the 
forming  a  good  Actress ;  for  she  set  out  with  so 
extraordinary  a  Diffidence,  that  it  kept  her  too  de- 

^  For  Leigh's  playing  of  this  character,  see  ante,  p.  145. 

=  Curll,  in  his  "  Life  of  Mrs.  Oldfield,"  says  that  the  only  part  she 
played,  previous  to  appearing  as  Alinda,  was  Candiopein  "Secret 
Love."     She  played  Alinda  in  1700. 

306  THE    LIFE    OF 

spondingly  down  to  a  formal,  plain  (not  to  say)  flat 
manner  of  speaking.  Nor  could  the  silver  Tone  of 
her  Voice  'till  after  some  time  incline  my  Ear  to 
any  Hope  in  her  favour.  But  Publick  Approbation  is 
the  warm  Weather  of  a  Theatrical  Plant,  which  will 
soon  brinof  it  forward  to  whatever  Perfection  Nature 
has  design'd  it.  However,  Mrs.  Oldfield  (perhaps 
for  want  of  fresh  Parts)  seem'd  to  come  but  slowly 
forward  'till  the  Year  1703.^  Our  Company  that 
Summer  acted  at  the  Bath  during  the  Residence  of 
Queen  Amte  at  that  Place.  At  that  time  it  happen'd 
that  Mrs.  Verdruggeii,  by  reason  of  her  last  Sickness 
(of  which  she  some  few  Months  after  dy'd)  was  left  in 
London  ;  and  though  most  of  her  Parts  were,  of  course, 
to  be  dispos'd  of,  yet  so  earnest  was  the  Female 
Scramble  for  them,  that  only  one  of  them  fell  to  the 
Share  of  Mrs.  Oldfield,  that  oi  Leonora  in  Sir  Courtly 
Nice ;  a  Character  of  good  plain  Sense,  but  not  over 
elegantly  written.  It  was  in  this  Part  Mrs.  Oldfield 
surpris'd  me  into  an  Opinion  of  her  having  all  the 
innate  Powers  of  a  good  Actress,  though  they  were 
yet  but  in  the  Bloom  of  what  they  promis'd.  Before 
she  had  acted  this  Part  I  had  so  cold  an  Expecta- 
tion from  her  Abilities,  that  she  could  scarce  prevail 
with  me  to  rehearse  with  her  the  Scenes  she  was 
chiefly  concern'd  in  with  Sir  Courtly,  which  I  then 
acted.     However,  we  ran  them  over  with  a  mutual 

^  In  1702,  Gildon,  in  the  "Comparison  between  the  two 
Stages  "  (p.  200),  includes  Mrs.  Oldfield  among  the  "  meer  Rub- 
bish that  ought  to  be  swept  off  the  Stage  with  the  Filth  and  Dust." 

SIR       JOHN       VANBRUGH 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  307 

Inadvertency  of  one  another.  I  seem'd  careless,  as 
concluding  that  any  Assistance  I  could  give  her 
would  be  to  little  or  no  purpose ;  and  she  mutter'd 
out  her  Words  in  a  sort  of  mifty^  manner  at  my 
low  Opinion  of  her.  But  when  the  Play  came  to  be 
acted,  she  had  a  just  Occasion  to  triumph  over  the 
Error  of  my  Judgment,  by  the  (almost)  Amazement 
that  her  unexpected  Performance  awak'd  me  to;  so 
forward  and  sudden  a  Step  into  Nature  I  had  never 
seen ;  and  what  made  her  Performance  more  valu- 
able was,  that  I  knew  it  all  proceeded  from  her  own 
Understanding,  untaught  and  unassisted  by  any  one 
more  experienc'd  Actor.^  Perhaps  it  may  not  be 
unacceptable,  if  I  enlarge  a  little  more  upon  the 
Theatrical  Character  of  so  memorable  an  Actress.^ 

Thouofh  this  VdiVtoi  Leonora  in  itself  was  of  so  little 
value,  that  when  she  got  more  into  Esteem  it  was  one 

^  "  Miff,"  a  colloquial  expression  signifying  "  a  slight  degree  of 

^  Gibber  is  pleasantly  candid  in  allowing  that  he  had  no  share 
in  Mrs.  Oldfield's  success.  The  temptation  to  assume  some  credit 
for  teaching  her  something  must  have  been  great. 

^  Mrs.  Anne  Oldfield,  born  about  1683,  was  introduced  to  Van- 
brugh  by  Farquhar,  who  accidentally  heard  her  reading  aloud,  and 
was  struck  by  her  dramatic  style.  Gibber  gives  so  full  an  account  of 
her  that  it  is  only  necessary  to  add  that  she  made  her  last  appearance 
on  28th  April,  1730,  at  Drury  Lane,  and  that  she  died  on  the  23rd 
October  in  the  same  year.  It  was  of  Mrs.  Oldfield  that  Pope  wrote 
the  often-quoted  lines  ("  Moral  Essays,"  Epistle  I.,  Part  iii.) : — 

"Odious  !  in  woollen  !  'twould  a  saint  provoke 
(Were  the  last  words  that  poor  Narcissa  spoke), 
No,  let  a  charming  chintz  and  Brussels  lace 
Wrap  my  cold  limbs,  and  shade  my  lifeless  face : 

308  THE  LIFE    OF 

of  the  several  she  gave  away  to  inferior  Actresses ;  yet 
it  was  the  first  (as  I  have  observ' d)  that  corrected  my 
Judgment  of  her,  and  confirm'd  me  in  a  strong  Belief 
that  she  could  not  fail  in  very  little  time  of  being  what 
she  was  afterwards  allow'd  to  be,  the  foremost  Orna- 
ment of  our  Theatre.  Upon  this  unexpected  Sally, 
then,  of  the  Power  and  Disposition  of  so  unforeseen 
an  Actress,  it  was  that  I  again  took  up  the  two  first 
Acts  of  the  Ca7^elcss  Htisbajid,  which  I  had  written  the 
Summer  before,  and  had  thrown  aside  in  despair  of 
having  Justice  done  to  the  Character  of  Lady  Betty 
Modish  by  any  one  Woman  then  among  us  ;  Mrs.  Ver- 
bruggen  being  now  in  a  very  declining  state  of  Health, 
and  Mrs.  Bracegirdle  out  of  my  Reach  and  engag'd  in 
another  Company  :  But,  as  I  have  said,  Mrs.  Oldjield 
having  thrown  out  such  new  Proffers  of  a  Genius,  I 
was  no  longer  at  a  loss  for  Support ;  my  Doubts 
were  dispell'd,  and  I  had  now  a  new  Call  to  finish  it : 
Accordingly,   the   Careless  Husband^  took  its  Fate 

One  would  not,  sure,  be  frightful  when  one's  dead — 
And — Betty — give  this  cheek  a  little  red." 

I  may  note  that,  though  Gibber  enlarges  chiefly  on  her  comedy 
acting,  she  acted  many  parts  in  tragedy  with  the  greatest  success. 
'  Produced  7th  December,  1704,  at  Drury  Lane. 
"The  Careless  Husband." 

Lord  Morelove Mr.  Powel. 

Lord  Foppington Mr.  Gibber. 

Sir  Charles  Easy Mr.  Wiiks. 

Lady  Betty  Modish Mrs.  Oldfield. 

Lady  Easy Mrs.  Knight. 

Lady  Graveairs Mrs.  INIoore. 

Mrs.  Edging Mrs.  Lucas. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  3O9 

Upon  the  Stage  the  Winter  following,  in  1704. 
Whatever  favourable  Reception  this  Comedy  has 
met  with  from  the  Publick,  it  would  be  unjust  in  me 
not  to  place  a  large  Share  of  it  to  the  Account  of  Mrs. 
Oldfield',  not  only  from  the  uncommon  Excellence 
of  her  Action,  but  even  from  her  personal  manner 
of  Conversing.  There  are  many  Sentiments  in  the 
Character  of  Lady  Betty  Modish  that  I  may  almost 
say  were  originally  her  own,  or  only  dress'd  with  a 
little  more  care  than  when  they  negligently  fell  from 
her  lively  Humour  :  Had  her  Birth  plac'd  her  in  a 
higher  Rank  of  Life,  she  had  certainly  appear'd  in 
reality  what  in  this  Play  she  only  excellently  acted, 
an  agreeably  gay  Woman  of  Quality  a  little  too  con- 
scious of  her  natural  Attractions.  I  have  often  seen 
her  in  private  Societies,  where  Women  of  the  best 
Rank  might  have  borrow'd  some  part  of  her  Beha- 
viour without  the  least  Diminution  of  their  Sense  or 
Dignity.  And  this  very  Morning,  where  I  am  now 
writing  at  the  Bath,  November  11,  1738,  the  same 
Words  were  said  of  her  by  a  Lady  of  Condition, 
whose  better  Judgment  of  her  Personal  Merit  in  that 
Light  has  embolden'd  me  to  repeat  them.  After 
her  Success  in  this  Character  of  higher  Life,  all  that 
Nature  had  given  her  of  the  Actress  seem'd  to  have 
risen  to  its  full  Perfection  :  But  the  Variety  of  her 
Power  could  not  be  known  'till  she  was  seen  in 
variety  of  Characters ;  which,  as  fast  as  they  fell  to 
her,  she  equally  excell'd  in.  Authors  had  much  more 
from  her  Performance  than  they  had  reason  to  hope 

3IO  THE    LIFE    OF 

for  from  what  they  had  written  for  her ;  and  none 
had  less  than  another,  but  as  their  Genius  in  the 
Parts  they  allotted  her  was  more  or  less  elevated. 

In  the  Wearing  of  her  Person  she  was  particularly 
fortunate ;  her  Figure  was  always  improving  to  her 
Thirty-sixth  Year  ;  but  her  Excellence  in  acting  was 
never  at  a  stand :  And  the  last  new  Character  she 
shone  in  {Lady  Towiily)  was  a  Proof  that  she  was  still 
able  to  do  more,  if  more  could  have  been  done  for  her} 
She  had  one  Mark  of  good  Sense,  rarely  known  in  any 
Actor  of  either  Sex  but  herself  I  have  observ'd 
several,  with  promising  Dispositions,  very  desirous 
of  Instruction  at  their  first  setting  out ;  but  no  sooner 
had  they  found  their  least  Account  in  it,  than  they 
were  as  desirous  of  being  left  to  their  own  Capacity, 
which  they  then  thought  would  be  disgrac'd  by  their 
seeming  to  want  any  farther  Assistance.  But  this 
was  not  Mrs.  Oldfield's  way  of  thinking  ;  for,  to  the 
last  Year  of  her  Life,  she  never  undertook  any  Part 
she  lik'd  without  being  importunately  desirous  of 
having  all  the  Helps  in  it  that  another  could  possibly 
give  her.  By  knowing  so  much  herself,  she  found 
how  much  more  there  was  of  Nature  yet  needful  to 
be  known.  Yet  it  was  a  hard  matter  to  give  her  any 
Hint  that  she  was  not  able   to  take   or   improve. 

'  Mrs.  Oldfield  played  Lady  Townly  in  the  "  Provoked  Hus- 
band," loth  January,  1728.  I  presume  that  Gibber  means  that 
this  was  her  last  important  original  part,  for  she  was  the  original 
representative  of  Sophonisba  (by  James  Thomson)  and  other 
characters  after  January,  1728. 

MR,    COLLEY    GIBBER.  3  I  I 

With  all  this  Merit  she  was  tractable  and  less  pre- 
suming in  her  Station  than  several  that  had  not  half 
her  Pretensions  to  be  troublesome :  But  she  lost 
nothing  by  her  easy  Conduct ;  she  had  every  thing 
she  ask'd,  which  she  took  care  should  be  always 
reasonable,  because  she  hated  as  much  to  be  grudgd 
as  denyd  a  Civility.  Upon  her  extraordinary  Action 
in  the  Provoked  Htisband^  the  Menagers  made  her  a 
Present  of  Fifty  Guineas  more  than  her  Agreement, 
which  never  was  more  than  a  Verbal  one ;  for  they 
knew  she  was  above  deserting  them  to  engage  upon 
any  other  Stage,  and  she  was  conscious  they  would 
never  think  it  their  Interest  to  give  her  cause  of 
Complaint.  In  the  last  two  Months  of  her  Illness, 
when  she  was   no  longer  able  to  assist  them,  she 

'  "  The  Provoked  Husband." 

Lord  Townly Mr.  Wilks. 

Lady  Townly Mrs.  Oldfield. 

Lady  Grace Mrs.  Porter. 

Mr.  Manley Mr.  Mills,  sen. 

Sir  Francis  Wronghead     .     .     Mr.  Gibber,  sen. 

Lady  Wronghead Mrs.  Thurmond. 

Squire  Richard Young  Wetherelt. 

Miss  Jenny Mrs.  Gibber. 

John  Moody Mr,  Miller. 

Count  Basset Mr.  Bridgewater. 

Mrs.  Motherly Mrs.  Moore. 

Myrtilla Mrs.  Grace. 

Mrs.  Trusty Mrs.  Mills. 

Vanbrugh  left  behind  him  nearly  four  acts  of  a  play  entitled 
"A  Journey  to  London,"  which  Gibber  completed,  calling  the 
finished  work  "  The  Provoked  Husband."  It  was  produced  at 
Drury  Lane  on  loth  January,  1728. 

312  THE    LIFE    OF 

declin'd  receiving  her  Sallary,  tho'  by  her  Agreement 
she  was  entitled  to  it.  Upon  the  whole  she  was,  to 
the  last  Scene  she  acted,  the  Delight  of  her  Spec- 
tators :  Why  then  may  we  not  close  her  Character 
with  the  same  Indulgence  with  which  Horace  speaks 
of  a  commendable  Poem  : 

Ubi plura  nitent — non  ego  paticis 

Offendar  maculis ^ 

Where  in  the  whole  such  various  Beatities  shine, 

' Twelve  idle  tipon  Errors  to  refine'^ 
What  more  might  be  said  of  her  as  an  Actress  may 
be  found  in  the  Preface  to  the  ProvoJid  Husband,  to 
which  I  refer  the  Reader.^ 

*       "  Verum  ubi  plura  nitent  in  carmine,  non  ego  paucis 
Offendar  maculis." — Horace,  Ars  Foetica,  351. 

^  "The  Laureat,"  p.  57  :  "  But  I  can  see  no  Occasion  you  have 
to  mention  any  Errors.  She  had  fewer  as  an  Actress  than  any ; 
and  neither  you,  nor  I,  have  any  Right  to  enquire  into  her  Conduct 
any  where  else." 

^  The  following  is  the  passage  referred  to  : — 

"  But  there  is  no  doing  right  to  Mrs.  Oldfield,  without  putting 
people  in  mind  of  what  others,  of  great  merit,  have  wanted  to 
come  near  her — 'Tis  not  enough  to  say,  she  here  outdid  her  usual 
excellence.  I  might  therefore  justly  leave  her  to  the  constant 
admiration  of  those  spectators  who  have  the  pleasure  of  living 
while  she  is  an  actress.  But  as  this  is  not  the  only  time  she  has 
been  the  life  of  what  I  have  given  the  public,  so,  perhaps,  my 
saying  a  little  more  of  so  memorable  an  actress,  may  give  this 
play  a  chance  to  be  read  when  the  people  of  this  age  shall  be 
ancestors— May  it  therefore  give  emulation  to  our  successors  of 
the  stage,  to  know,  that  to  the  ending  of  the  year  1727,  a  co- 
temporary  comedian  relates,  that  Mrs.  Oldfield  was  then  in  her 
highest  excellence  of  action,  happy  in  all  the  rarely  found  requisites 
that  meet  in  one  person  to  complete  them  for  the  stage.    She  was 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  313 

With  the  Acquisition,  then,  of  so  advanc'd  a 
Comedian  as  Mrs.  Oldfield,  and  the  Addition  of  one 
so  much  in  Favour  as  Wilks,  and  by  the  visible 
Improvement  of  our  other  Actors,  as  PenketkmaUy 
Johnson,  Bullock,  and  I  think  I  may  venture  to  name 
myself  in  the  Number  (but  in  what  Rank  I  leave  to 
the  Judgment  of  those  who  have  been  my  Spectators) 

in  stature  just  rising  to  that  height,  where  the  graceful  can  only 
begin  to  show  itself ;  of  a  lively  aspect,  and  a  command  in  her 
mien,  that  like  the  principal  figure  in  the  finest  painting,  first 
seizes,  and  longest  delights,  the  eye  of  the  spectators.  Her  voice 
was  sweet,  strong,  piercing,  and  melodious;  her  pronunciation 
voluble,  distinct,  and  musical ;  and  her  emphasis  always  placed, 
where  the  spirit  of  the  sense,  in  her  periods,  only  demanded  it. 
If  she  delighted  more  in  the  higher  comic,  than  in  the  tragic 
strain,  'twas  because  the  last  is  too  often  written  in  a  lofty  disre- 
gard of  nature.  But  in  characters  of  modern  practised  life,  she 
found  occasion  to  add  the  particular  air  and  manner  which  dis- 
tinguished the  different  humours  she  presented ;  whereas,  in 
tragedy,  the  manner  of  speaking  varies  as  little  as  the  blank  verse 
it  is  written  in. — She  had  one  peculiar  happiness  from  nature,  she 
looked  and  maintained  the  agreeable,  at  a  time  when  other  fine 
women  only  raise  admirers  by  their  understanding — The  spectator 
was  always  as  much  informed  by  her  eyes  as  her  elocution ;  for 
the  look  is  the  only  proof  that  an  actor  rightly  conceives  what  he 
utters,  there  being  scarce  an  instance,  where  the  eyes  do  their 
part,  that  the  elocution  is  known  to  be  faulty.  The  qualities  she 
had  acquired,  were  the  genteel  and  the  elegant ;  the  one  in  her 
air,  and  the  other  in  her  dress,  never  had  her  equal  on  the  stage ; 
and  the  ornaments  she  herself  provided  (particularly  in  this  play) 
seemed  in  all  respects  the  paraphernalia  of  a  woman  of  cjuality. 
And  of  that  sort  were  the  characters  she  chiefly  excelled  in ;  but 
her  natural  good  sense,  and  lively  turn  of  conversation,  made  her 
way  so  easy  to  ladies  of  the  highest  rank,  that  it  is  a  less  wonder 
if,  on  the  stage,  she  sometimes  was,  what  might  have  become  the 
finest  woman  in  real  life  to  have  supported."     [Bell's  edition.] 

314  THE    LIFE    OF     • 

the  Reputation  of  our  Company  began  to  get  ground ; 
Mrs.  Oldjield  and  Mr.  Wilks,  by  their  frequently 
playing  against  one  another  in  our  best  Comedies, 
very  happily  supported  that  Humour  and  Vivacity 
which  is  so  peculiar  to  our  E7iglish  Stage.  The 
French,  our  only  modern  Competitors,  seldom  give 
us  their  Lovers  in  such  various  Lio-hts :  In  their 
Comedies  (however  lively  a  People  they  are  by 
nature)  their  Lovers  are  generally  constant,  simple 
Sighers,  both  of  a  Mind,  and  equally  distressed  about 
the  Difficulties  of  their  coming  toeether ;  which 
naturally  makes  their  Conversation  so  serious  that 
they  are  seldom  good  Company  to  their  Auditors  : 
And  tho'  I  allow  them  many  other  Beauties  of  which 
we  are  too  negligent,  yet  our  Variety  of  Humour  has 
Excellencies  that  all  their  valuable  Observance  of 
Rules  have  never  yet  attained  to.  By  these  Advan- 
tages, then,  we  began  to  have  an  equal  Share  of  the 
politer  sort  of  Spectators,  who,  for  several  Years, 
could  not  allow  our  Company  to  stand  in  any  com- 
parison with  the  other.  But  Theatrical  Favour,  like 
Publick  Commerce,  will  sometimes  deceive  the  best 
Judgments  by  an  unaccountable  change  of  its  Channel ; 
the  best  Commodities  are  not  always  known  to  meet 
with  the  best  Markets.  To  this  Decline  of  the  Old 
Company  many  Accidents  might  contribute  ;  as  the 
too  distant  Situation  of  their  Theatre,  or.  their  want 
of  a  better,  for  it  was  not  then  in  the  condition  it 
now  is,  but  small,  and  poorly  fitted  up  within  the 
Walls  of  a  Tennis  Qiiaree  Court,  which   is   of  the 

MR.    COLLEY   GIBBER.  315 

lesser  sort.'  Booth,  who  was  then  a  young  Actor 
among  them,  has  often  told  me  of  the  Difficulties 
Beiicrton  then  labour'd  under  and  complain'd  of: 
How  impracticable  he  found  it  to  keep  their  Body  to 
that  common  Order  which  was  necessary  for  their 
Support  ;^  of  their  relying  too  much  upon  their  intrin- 
sick  Merit ;  and  though  but  few  of  them  were  young 
even  when  they  first  became  their  own  Masters,  yet 
they  were  all  now  ten  Years  older,  and  consequendy 
more  liable  to  fall  into  an  inactive  Negligence,  or 
were  only  separately  diligent  for  themselves  in  the 
sole  Regard  of  their  Benefit-Plays  ;  which  several  of 
their  Principals  knew,  at  worst,  would  raise  them 
Contributions  that  would  more  than  tolerably  subsist 
them  for  the  current  Year.  But  as  these  were  too 
precarious  Expedients  to  be  always  depended  upon, 
and  brought  in  nothing  to  the  general  Support  of 

^  Mr.  Julian  Marshall,  in  his  "Annals  of  Tennis,"  p.  34, 
describes  the  two  different  sorts  of  tennis  courts — "  that  which  was 
called  Le  Qiiarre,  or  the  Square ;  and  the  other  with  the  dedans, 
which  is  almost  the  same  as  that  of  the  present  day."  Gibber  is 
thus  correct  in  mentioning  that  the  court  was  one  of  the  lesser  sort. 

^  Interesting  confirmation  of  Gibber's  statement  is  furnished  by 
an  edict  of  the  Lord  Chamberlain,  dated  nth  November,  1700,  by 
which  Betterton  is  ordered  "  to  take  upon  him  y''  sole  management" 
of  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  company,  there  having  been  great  dis- 
orders, "for  want  of  sufficient  authority  to  keep  them  to  their 
duty."  See  David  Graufurd's  Preface  to  "  Gourtship  c\  la  Mode  " 
(1700),  for  an  account  of  the  disorganized  state  of  the  Lincoln's 
Inn  Fields  Gompany.  He  says  that  though  Betterton  did  his 
best,  some  of  the  actors  neither  learned  their  parts  nor  attended 
rehearsals ;  and  he  therefore  withdrew  his  comedy  and  took  it  to 
Drury  Lane,  where  it  was  promptly  produced. 


1 6  THE    LIFE    OF 

the  Numbers  who  were  at  Sallaries  under  them,  they 
were  reduc'd  to  have  recourse  to  foreign  Novelties ; 
L'Abbee,  Balon,  and  Mademoiselle  Subligny^  three 
of  the  then  most  famous  Dancers  of  the  Frejick 
Opera,  were,  at  several  times,  brought  over  at  extra- 
ordinary Rates,  to  revive  that  sickly  Appetite  which 
plain  Sense  and  Nature  had  satiated.^  But  alas  ! 
there  was  no  recovering  to  a  sound  Constitution  by 
those  mere  costly  Cordials  ;  the  Novelty  of  a  Dance 
was  but  of  a  short  Duration,  and  perhaps  hurtful  in 
its  consequence ;  for  it  made  a  Play  without  a  Dance 
less  endur'd  than  it  had  been  before,  when  such 
Dancing  was  not  to  be  had.     But  perhaps  their  ex- 

^  Mons.  Castil-Blaze,  in  his  "La  Danse  et  les  Ballets,"  1832, 
p.  153,  writes:  "Ballon  danse  avec  energie  et  vivacite;  made- 
moiselle de  Subligny  se  fait  generalement  admirer  pour  sa  danse 
noble  et  gracieuse."  Madlle.  Subligny  was  one  of  the  first  women 
who  were  dancers  by  profession.  "  La  demoiselle  Subligny  parut 
peu  de  temps  apres  la  demoiselle  Fontaine  [1681],  et  fut  aussi  fort 
applaudie  pour  sa  danse;  mais  elle  quitta  le  theatre,  en  1705,  et 
mourut  apres  I'annee  1736." — "Histoirede  I'Opera."  Of  Mons. 
L'Abb^  I  have  been  unable  to  discover  any  critical  notice. 

*  Downes  ("  Roscius  Anglicanus,"  p.  46)  says  :  "  In  the  space 
of  Ten  Years  past,  Mr.  Bettertojt  to  gratify  the  desires  and  Fancies 
of  the  Nobility  and  Gentry ;  procur'd  from  Abroad  the  best  Dances 
and  Singers,  as  Monsieur  L'Abbe,  Madam  Sublini,  Monsieur  Balon, 
Margarita  De/pine,  Maria  Gallia  and  divers  others ;  who  being 
Exhorbitantly  Expensive,  produc'd  small  Profit  to  him  and  his 
Company,  but  vast  Gain  to  themselves." 

Gildon,  in  the  "  Comparison  between  the  two  Stages,"  alludes 
to  some  of  these  dancers  : — 

"  Sull.  The  Town  ran  mad  to  see  him  [Balon],  and  the  prizes 
were  rais'd  to  an  extravagant  degree  to  bear  the  extravagant  rate 
they  allow'd  him  "  (p.  49). 

MR.    COLLEY   CIEBER.  317 

hibiting  these  Novelties  might  be  owing  to  the  Suc- 
cess we  had  met  with  in  our  more  barbarous  intro- 
ducing of  French  Mimicks  and  Tumblers  the  Year 
before  ;  of  which  Mr.  Rowe  thus  complains  in  his 
Prologue  to  one  of  his  first  Plays : 

Must  Shakespear,  Fletcher,  and  laborious  Ben, 
Be  left  for  Scaramouch  and  Harlequin  ?^ 

While  the  Crowd,  therefore,  so  fluctuated  from  one 
House  to  another  as  their  Eyes  were  more  or  less 
regaled  than  their  Ears,  it  could  not  be  a  Question 
much  in  Debate  which  had  the  better  Actors ;  the 
Merit  of  either  seem'd  to  be  of  little  moment ;  and 
the  Complaint  in  the  foregoing  Lines,  tho'  it  might 
be  just  for  a  time,  could  not  be  a  just  one  for  ever, 
because  the  best  Play  that  ever  was  writ  may  tire 
by  being  too  often  repeated,  a  Misfortune  naturally 
attending  the  Obligation  to  play  every  Day ;  not  that 

"  Crit.  There's  another  Toy  now  [Madame  Subligny] — Gad, 
there's  not  a  Year  but  some  surprizing  Monster  lands :  I  wonder 
they  don't  first  show  her  at  Fleci-bridge  with  an  old  Drum  and  a 
crackt  Trumpet"  (p.  67). 

^  In  the  Prologue  to  "  The  Ambitious  Stepmother,"  produced 
at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  in  1701  (probably),  Rowe  writes  : — 
"  The  Stage  would  need  no  Farce,  nor  Song  nor  Dance, 
Nor  Capering  Monsieur  brought  from  Active  France." 
And  in  the  Epilogue  (not  Prologue,  as  Gibber  says) : — 
"  Show  but  a  Mimick  Ape,  or  French  Buffoon,  A 
You  to  the  other  House  in  Shoals  are  gone,       |- 
And  leave  us  here  to  Tune  our  Growds  alone,   j 
Must  Shakespear,  Fletcher,  and  laborious  Ben, 
Be  left  for  Scaramouch  and  Harlaquin?" 

3l8  THE    LIFE    OF 

whenever  such  Satiety  commences  it  will  be  any 
Proof  of  the  Play's  being  a  bad  one,  or  of  its  being 
ill  acted.  In  a  word,  Satiety  is  seldom  enough  con- 
sider'd  by  either  Criticks,  Spectators,  or  Actors,  as 
the  true,  not  to  say  just  Cause  of  declining  Audiences 
to  the  most  rational  Entertainments :  And  tho'  I 
cannot  say  I  ever  saw  a  good  new  Play  not  attended 
with  due  Encouragement,  yet  to  keep  a  Theatre  daily 
open  without  sometimes  giving  the  Publick  a  bad 
old  one,  is  more  than  I  doubt  the  Wit  of  human 
Writers  or  Excellence  of  Actors  will  ever  be  able  to 
accomplish.  And  as  both  Authors  and  Comedians 
may  have  often  succeeded  where  a  sound  Judgment 
would  have  condemn'd  them,  it  might  puzzle  the 
nicest  Critick  living  to  prove  In  what  sort  of  Excel- 
lence the  true  Value  of  either  consisted  :  For  if  their 
Merit  were  to  be  measur'd  by  the  full  Houses  they 
may  have  brought;  if  the  Judgment  of  the  Crowd 
were  infallible ;  I  am  afraid  we  shall  be  reduc'd  to 
allow  that  the  Beggars  Opera  was  the  best-written 
Play,  and  Sir  Harry  Wildair^  (as  Wilks  play'd  it) 
was  the  best  acted  Part,  that  ever  our  English 
Theatre  had  to  boast  of.  That  Critick,  indeed,  must 
be  rigid  to  a  Folly  that  would  deny  either  of  them 
their  due  Praise,  when  they  severally  drew  such 
Numbers  after  them  ;  all  their  Hearers  could  not  be 
mistaken ;  and  yet,  if  they  were  all  in  the  right,  what 
sort  of  Fame  will  remain  to  those  celebrated  Authors 

'    In   "The   Constant   Couple,"  and   its  sequel,   "Sir  Harry 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  3I9 

and  Actors  that  had  so  long  and  deservedly  been 
admired  before  these  were  in  Being.     The  only  Dis- 
tinction   I    shall   make   between   them   is,  That   to 
write  or  act  like  the  Authors  or  Actors  of  the  latter 
end  of  the  last  Century,  I  am  of  Opinion  will  be 
found  a  far  better  Pretence  to  Success  than  to  imitate 
these  who  have  been  so  crowded  to  in  the  beginning 
of  this.     All  I  would  infer  from  this  Explanation  is, 
that  tho'   we  had  then  the  better   Audiences,  and 
might  have  more  of  the  young  World  on  our  Side, 
yet  this  was  no  sure  Proof  that  the  other  Company 
were  not,  in  the  Truth  of  Action,  greatly  our  Supe- 
riors.     These  elder  Actors,  then,  besides  the  Dis- 
advantages I  have  mention'd,  having  only  the  fewer 
true  Judges  to  admire  them,  naturally  wanted  the 
Support  of  the  Crowd  whose  Taste  was  to  be  pleased 
at  a  cheaper  Rate  and  with  coarser  Fare.     To  re- 
cover them,  therefore,  to  their  due  Estimation,  a  new 
Project  was  form'd  of  building  them  a  stately  Theatre 
in   the   Hay-Market^   by   Sir  John    Vanbrugh,  for 
which  he  raised  a  Subscription  of  thirty  Persons  of 
Quality,  at  one  hundred  Pounds  each,  in  Considera- 
tion whereof  every  Subscriber,  for  his  own  Life,  was 
to  be  admitted  to  whatever  Entertainments  should 
be  publickly  perform'd  there,  without  farther  Pay- 
ment for  his  Entrance.      Of  this  Theatre  I  saw  the 

*  This  theatre,  opened  9th  April,  1705,  was  burnt  down  17th 
June,  1788;  rebuilt  1791  ;  again  burnt  in  1867.  During  its  ex- 
istence it  has  borne  the  name  of  Queen's  Theatre,  Opera  House, 
King's  Theatre,  and  its  present  title  of  Her  Majesty's  Theatre. 

320  THE    LIFE   OF 

first  Stone  laid,  on  which  was  inscrib'd  The  little 
Whig,  in  Honour  to  a  Lady  of  extraordinary  Beauty, 
then  the  celebrated  Toast  and  Pride  of  that  Party.^ 

In  the  Year  1706,^  when  this  House  was  finish'd, 
Bcttertoii  and  his  Co-partners  dissolved  their  own 
Agreement,  and  threw  themselves  under  the  Direc- 
tion of  S\Y  John  Vanbrugh  and  Mr.  Congreve,  ima- 
gining, perhaps,  that  the  Conduct  of  two  such  emi- 
nent Authors  might  give  a  more  prosperous  Turn  to 
their  Condition ;  that  the  Plays  it  would  now  be 
their  Interest  to  write  for  them  would  soon  recover 
the  Town  to  a  true  Taste,  and  be  an  Advantage  that 
no  other  Company  could  hope  for ;  that  in  the 
Interim,  till  such  Plays  could  be  written,  the  Gran- 
deur of  their  House,  as  it  was  a  new  Spectacle, 
might  allure  the  Crowd  to  support  them  :  But  if 
these  were  their  Views,  we  shall  see  that  their 
Dependence  upon  them  was  too  sanguine.  As  to 
their  Prospect  of  new  Plays,  I  doubt  it  was  not 
enough  consider'd  that  good  ones  were  Plants  of  a 
slow  Growth ;  and  tho'   Sir  John   Vanbrugh  had  a 

'  The  beautiful  Lady  Sunderland.  Mr.  Percy  Fitzgerald  ("New 
History,"  i.  238)  states  that  it  was  said  that  workmen,  on  19th 
March,  1825,  found  a  stone  with  the  inscription:  "April  i8th, 
1704.  This  corner-stone  of  the  Queen's  Theatre  was  laid  by  his 
Grace  Charles  Duke  of  Somerset." 

^  Should  be  1705.  Downes  (p.  47)  says:  "About  the  end  of 
1704,  Mr.  Betterton  Assign'd  his  License,  and  his  whole  Company 
over  to  Captain  Vantbnigg  to  Act  under  HIS,  at  the  Theatre  in 
the  Hay  Market''  Vanbrugh  opened  his  theatre  on  9th  April, 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  32 1 

very  quick  Pen,  yet  Mr.  Congreve  was  too  judicious 
a  Writer  to  let  any  thing  come  hastily  out  of  his 
Hands :   As  to  their  other  Dependence,  the  House, 
they  had  not  yet  discover'd  that  almost  every  proper 
Quality  and   Convenience  of  a  good  Theatre  had 
been  sacrificed  or  neglected  to  shew  the  Spectator  a 
vast  triumphal  Piece  of  Architecture  !     And  that  the 
best  Play,  for  the  Reasons  I  am  going  to  offer,  could 
not  but  be  under  great  Disadvantages,  and  be  less 
capable  of  delighting  the  Auditor  here  than  it  could 
have  been  in   the  plain  Theatre  they  came  from. 
For  what   could   their  vast    Columns,   their  gilded 
Cornices,  their  immoderate  high  Roofs  avail,  when 
scarce  one  Word  in  ten  could  be  distinctly  heard  in 
it  ?     Nor  had  it  then  the  Form  it  now  stands   in, 
which  Necessity,  two  or  three  Years  after,  reduced  it 
to  :    At  the  first  opening  it,  the  flat  Ceiling  that  is 
now  over  the  Orchestre  was  then  a  Semi-oval  Arch 
that  sprung  fifteen  Feet  higher  from  above  the  Cor- 
nice :    The  Ceiling  over  the  Pit,  too,  was  still  more 
raised,  being  one  level  Line  from  the  highest  back 
part  of  the  upper  Gallery  to  the  Front  of  the  Stage  : 
The  Front-boxes  were  a  continued  Semicircle  to  the 
bare  Walls  of  the  House  on  each  Side  :   This  extra- 
ordinary and  superfluous  Space  occasion'd  such  an 
Undulation    from   the  Voice   of  every  Actor,   that 
generally  what  they  said  sounded  like  the  Gabbling 
of  so  many  People  in  the  lofty  Isles  in  a  Cathedral 
— The    Tone   of  a  Trumpet,   or   the    Swell    of  an 
Eunuch's  holding  Note,  'tis  true,  might  be  sweeten'd 

32  2  THE    LIFE    OF 

by  it,  but  the  articulate  Sounds  of  a  speaking  Voice 
were  drown'd  by  the  hollow  Reverberations  of  one 
Word  upon  another.  To  this  Inconvenience,  why 
may  we  not  add  that  of  its  Situation  ;  for  at  that  time 
it  had  not  the  Advantage  of  almost  a  large  City, 
which  has  since  been  built  in  its  Neig-hbourhood  : 
Those  costly  Spaces  of  Hanover,  Grosvenor,  and 
Cavendish  Squares,  with  the  many  and  great  adja- 
cent Streets  about  them,  were  then  all  but  so  many 
green  Fields  of  Pasture,  from  whence  they  could 
draw  little  or  no  Sustenance,  unless  it  were  that  of  a 
Milk-Diet.  The  City,  the  Inns  of  Court,  and  the 
middle  Part  of  the  Town,  which  were  the  most  con- 
stant Support  of  a  Theatre,  and  chiefly  to  be  relied 
on,  were  now  too  far  out  of  the  Reach  of  an  easy 
Walk,  and  Coach-hire  is  often  too  hard  a  Tax  upon 
the  Pit  and  Gallery,^  But  from  the  vast  Increase  of 
the  Buildings  I  have  mention'd,  the  Situation  of  that 
Theatre  has  since  that  Time  received  considerable 
Advantages ;  a  new  World  of  People  of  Condition 
are  nearer  to  it  than  formerly,  and  I  am  of  Opinion 
that  if  the  auditory  Part  were  a  little  more  reduced 
to  the  Model  of  that  in  Dricry-Lane,  an  excellent 

^  In  Dryden's  Prologue  at  the  opening  of  Dmry  Lane  in  1674, 
in  comparing  the  situation  of  Drury  Lane  with  that  of  Dorset 
Garden,  which  was  at  the  east  end  of  Fleet  Street,  he  talks  of 

" a  cold  bleak  road, 

Where  bears  in  furs  dare  scarcely  look  abroad," 

This  is  now  the  Strand  and  Fleet  Street !  No  doubt  the  road 
westward  to  the  Haymarket  was  equally  wild. 

MR.    COLLEY   CIRBER.  323 

Company  of  Actors  would  now  find  a  better  Account 
in  it  than  in  any  other  House  in  this  populous  City/ 
Let  me  not  be  mistaken,  I   say  an  excellent  Com- 
pany, and  such  as  might  be  able  to  do  Justice  to  the 
best  of  Plays,  and  throw  out  those  latent  Beauties  in 
them  which  only  excellent  Actors  can  discover  and 
give  Life  to.      If  such  a  Company  were  now  there, 
they  would  meet  with  a  quite  different  Set  of  Audi- 
tors than  other  Theatres  have  lately  been  used  to  : 
Polite  Hearers  would  be  content  with  polite  Enter- 
tainments ;  and  I  remember  the  time  when  Plays, 
without  the  Aid  of  Farce  or  Pantomime,  were  as 
decently  attended  as  Opera's  or  private  Assemblies, 
where  a  noisy  Sloven  would  have  past  his  time  as 
uneasily  in  a  Front-box  as  in  a  Drawing-room  ;  when 
a  Hat  upon  a  Man's  Head  there  would  have  been 
look'd  upon  as  a  sure  Mark  of  a  Brute  or  a  Booby  : 
But  of  all  this  I  have  seen,  too,  the  Reverse,  where 
in  the  Presence  of  Ladies  at  a  Play  common  Civility 
has  been  set  at  defiance,  and  the  Privilege  of  being 
a  rude  Clown,  even  to  a  N usance,  has  in  a  manner 
been    demanded  as  one  of  the  Rights  of  English 
Liberty  :    Now,  though  I  grant  that  Liberty  is  so 
precious  a  Jewel  that  we  ought  not  to  suffer  the  least 
Ray  of  its  Lustre  to  be  diminish'd,  yet  methinks  the 
Liberty  of  seeing  a  Play  in  quiet  has  as  laudable  a 
Claim  to  Protection  as  the  Privilege  of  not  suffering 
you  to  do  it  has  to  Impunity.      But  since  we  are  so 

^  This  experiment  was  never  tried.     From   the   time   Gibber 
wrote,  the  house  was  used  as  an  Opera  House. 


324  THE    LIFE    OF 

happy  as  not  to  have  a  certain  Power  among  us, 
which  in  another  Country  is  call'd  the  Police,  let  us 
rather  bear  this  Insult  than  buy  its  Remedy  at  too 
dear  a  Rate ;  and  let  it  be  the  Punishment  of  such 
wrong-headed  Savages,  that  they  never  will  or  can 
know  the  true  Value  of  that  Liberty  which  they  so 
stupidly  abuse  :  Such  vulgar  Minds  possess  their 
Liberty  as  profligate  Husbands  do  fine  Wives,  only 
to  disgrace  them.  In  a  Word,  when  Liberty  boils 
over,  such  is  the  Scum  of  it.  But  to  our  new  erected 

Not  long  before  this  Time  the  Italian  Opera 
began  first  to  steal  into  England}  but  in  as  rude  a 
disguise  and  unlike  it  self  as  possible ;  in  a  lame, 
hobling  Translation  into  our  own  Language,  with 
false  Quantities,  or  Metre  out  of  Measure  to  its 
original  Notes,  sung  by  our  own  unskilful  Voices, 
with  Graces  misapply'd  to  almost  every  Sentiment, 
and  with  Action  lifeless  and  unmeaning  through 
every  Character  :    The  first  Italian  Performer  that 

'  "  to  Court, 

Her  seat  imperial  Dulness  shall  transport. 

Already  Opera  prepares  the  way, 

The  sure  fore-runner  of  her  gentle  sway." 

"Dunciad,"  iii.  verses  301-303. 
"  When  lo  !  a  harlot  form  soft  sliding  by, 
With  mincing  step,  small  voice,  and  languid  eye ; 
Foreign  her  air,  her  robe's  discordant  pride 
In  patchwork  fluttering,  and  her  head  aside ; 
By  singing  peers  upheld  on  either  hand, 
She  tripp'd  and  laugh'd,  too  pretty  much  to  stand." 
"Dunciad,"  iv.  verses  45-50. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  325 

made  any  distinguish'd  Figure  in  it  was  Valentini,  a 
true  sensible  Singer  at  that  time,  but  of  a  Throat 
too  weak  to  sustain  those  melodious  Warblings  for 
which  the  fairer  Sex  have  since  idoliz'd  his  Suc- 
cessors. However,  this  Defect  was  so  well  sup- 
pi  y'd  by  his  Action,  that  his  Hearers  bore  with  the 
Absurdity  of  his  singing  his  first  Part  of  Ttivnus 
in  Camilla  all  in  Italian,  while  every  other  Cha- 
racter was  sung  and  recited  to  him  in  English}  This 
I  have  mention'd  to  shew  not  only  our  Tramon- 
tane Taste,  but  that  the  crowded  Audiences  which 
follow'd  it  to  Drury-La7ie  might  be  another  Oc- 
casion of  their  growing  thinner  in  Lincolns-Inn- 

To  strike  in,  therefore,  with  this  prevailing  No- 
velty, Sir  Johjt  Vanbrtigk  and  Mr.  Congreve  open'd 
their  new  Hay -Market  Theatre  with  a  translated 
Opera  to  Italian  Musick,  called  the  Tritimph  of 
Love,  but  this  not  having  in  it  the  Charms  of 
Camilla,  either  from  the  Inequality  of  the  Musick  or 
Voices,  had  but  a  cold  Reception,  being  perform'd 
but  three  Days,  and  those  not  crowded.  Imme- 
diately upon  the  Failure  of  this  Opera,  Sir  John 
Vanbrugh  produced  his  Comedy  call'd  the  Confede- 

'  Salvini,  the  great  Italian  actor,  played  in  America  with  an 
English  company,  he  speaking  in  Italian,  they  answering  in 
English.  I  have  myself  seen  a  similar  polyglot  performance  at 
the  Edinburgh  Lyceum  Theatre,  where  the  manager,  Mr.  J.  B. 
Howard,  acted  lago  (in  English),  while  Signer  Salvini  and  his 
company  played  in  Italian.  I  confess  the  effect  was  not  so 
startling  as  I  expected. 

326  THE    LIFE    OF 

racy}  taken  (but  greatly  improv'd)  from  the  Bour- 
geois a  la  mode  of  Dancour :   Though  the  Fate  of 
this  Play  was  something  better,  yet  I  thought  it  was 
not  equal  to  its  Merit  :^     For  it  is  written  with  an 
uncommon  Vein  of  Wit  and  Humour  ;  which  confirms 
me  in  my  former  Observation,  that  the  difficulty  of 
hearing  distinctly  in  that  then  wide  Theatre  was  no 
small  Impediment  to  the  Applause  that  might  have 
followed  the  same  Actors  in  it  upon  every  other  Stage  ; 
and  indeed  every  Play  acted  there  before  the  House 
was  alter'd  seemed  to  suffer  from  the  same  Inconve- 
nience :    In   a  Word,  the  Prospect  of   Profits  from 
this  Theatre  was  so  very  barren,  that  Mr.  Congreve 
in  a  few  Months  gave  up  his  Share  and  Interest  in 
the  Government  of  it  wholly  to  Sir  John  Vanbrtigk.^ 
But  Sir  John,  being  sole  Proprietor  of  the   House, 
was  at  all  Events  oblig'd  to  do  his  utmost  to  support 
it.     As   he  had  a  happier  Talent  of  throwing  the 
English  Spirit  into  his  Translation  oi  French  Plays 
than  any  former  Author  who  had   borrowed  from 
them,  he  in  the  same  Season  gave  the  Publick  three 
more  of  that  kind,  call'd  the  Cuckold  i^i  Conceit,  from 
the  Cocu  imaginaire  of  Mo  Here  ]'^  Squire    Trelooby, 

^  "  The  Confederacy  "  was  not  produced  till  the  following  season 
— 30th  October,  1705. 

^  It  was  acted  ten  times. 

'  Genest  (ii.  333)  says  that  Congreve  resigned  his  share  at  the 
close  of  the  season  1704-5. 

'  Gibber  should  have  said  "The  Confederacy."  "The  Cuckold 
in  Conceit "  has  never  been  printed,  and  Genest  doubts  if  it  is  by 
Vanbrugh.     Besides,  it  was  not  produced  till  22nd  March,  1707. 

MR.    COLLEY    CIBBER.  327 

from  his  Monsieur  de  Pourceaugnac,  and  the  Mistake, 
from  the  Dipit  Amoureux  of  the  same  Author/ 
Yet  all  these,  however  well  executed,  came  to  the 
Ear  in  the  same  undistinguish'd  Utterance  by  which 
almost  all  their  Plays  had  equally  suffered :  For 
what  few  could  plainly  hear,  it  was  not  likely  a  great 
many  could  applaud. 

It  must  farther  be  consider'd,  too,  that  this  Com- 
pany were  not  now  what  they  had  been  when  they 
first  revolted  from  the  Patentees  in  Driiry-Lane,  and 
became  their  own  Masters  in  Lincohis- Inn- Fields. 
Several  of  them,  excellent  in  their  different  Talents, 
were  now  dead  ;  as  Smith,  Ky7iaston,  Sandford,  and 
Leigh :  Mrs.  Betterton  and  Underhil  being,  at  this 
time,  also  superannuated  Pensioners  whose  Places 
were  generally  but  ill  supply'd  :  Nor  could  it  be  ex- 
pected that  Betterton  himself,  at  past  seventy,  could 
retain  his  former  Force  and  Spirit ;  though  he  was 
yet  far  distant  from  any  Competitor.  Thus,  then, 
were  these  Remains  of  the  best  Set  of  Actors  that  I 
believe  were  ever  known  at  once  in  England,  by 
Time,  Death,  and  the  Satiety  of  their  Hearers,  moul- 
d'ring  to  decay. 

It  was  now  the  Town-talk  that  nothing  but  a 
Union  of  the  two  Companies  could  recover  the  Stage 
to  its  former  Reputation,^  which  Opinion  was  certainly 

^  <' The  Mistake  "was  produced  27  th  December,  1705.  "Squire 
Trelooby,"  which  was  first  played  in  1704,  was  revived  28th 
January,  1706,  with  a  new  second  act. 

'  A  junction  of  the  companies  seems  to  have  been  talked  of  as 

328  THE    LIFE    OF 

true  :  One  would  have  thought,  too,  that  the  Patentee 
of  Driiry-Lane  could  not  have  fail'd  to  close  with  it, 
he  being  then  on  the  Prosperous  Side  of  the  Ques- 
tion, having  no  Relief  to  ask  for  himself,  and  little 
more  to  do  in  the  matter  than  to  consider  what  he 
might  safely  grant :  But  it  seems  this  was  not  his 
way  of  counting ;  he  had  other  Persons  who  had 
great  Claims  to  Shares  in  the  Profits  of  this  Stage, 
which  Profits,  by  a  Union,  he  foresaw  would  be  too 
visible  to  be  doubted  of,  and  might  raise  up  a  new 
Spirit  in  those  Adventurers  to  revive  their  Suits  at 
Law  with  him ;  for  he  had  led  them  a  Chace  in 
Chancery  several  Years,^  and  when  they  had  driven 
him  into  a  Contempt  of  that  Court,  he  conjur'd  up  a 
Spirit,  in  the  Shape  of  Six  and  eight  Pence  a-day, 
that  constantly  struck  the  Tipstaff  blind  whenever 
he  came  near  him  :  He  knew  the  intrinsick  Value  of 
Delay,  and  was  resolv'd  to  stick  to  it  as  the  surest 
way  to  give  the  Plaintiffs  enough  on't.  And  by  this 
Expedient  our  good  Master  had  long  walk'd  about 
at  his  Leisure,  cool  and  contented  as  a  Fox  when 
the  Hounds  were  drawn   off  and  gone  home  from 

early  as  1701.  In  the  Prologue  to  "The  Unhappy  Penitent" 
(1701),  the  lines  occur  : — 

"  But  now  the  peaceful  tattle  of  the  town, 

Is  how  to  join  both  houses  into  one." 

^  In  '•  The  Post-Boy  Rob'd  of  his  Mail,"  p.  342,  some  curious 
particulars  of  the  negotiations  for  a  Union  are  given.  One  of 
Rich's  objections  to  it  is  that  he  has  to  consider  the  interests  of 
his  Partners,  with  some  of  whom  he  has  already  been  compelled 
to  go  to  law  on  monetary  questions. 

MR.   COLLEY    GIBBER.  329 

him.  But  whether  I  am  right  or  not  in  my  Conjec- 
tures, certain  it  is  that  this  close  Master  of  Drury- 
Lane  had  no  IncHnation  to  a  Union,  as  will  appear 
by  the  Sequel.^ 

Sir  John  Vanbrtigh  knew,  too,  that  to  make  a 
Union  worth  his  while  he  must  not  seem  too  hasty 
for  it ;  he  therefore  found  himself  under  a  Necessity, 
in  the  mean  time,  of  letting  his  whole  Theatrical 
Farm  to  some  industrious  Tenant  that  might  put  it 
into  better  Condition.  This  is  that  Crisis,  as  I  ob- 
served in  the  Eighth  Chapter,  when  the  Royal 
Licence  for  acting  Plays,  &c.  was  judg'd  of  so  little 
Value  as  not  to  have  one  Suitor  for  it.  At  this  time, 
then,  the  Master  of  Drury-Lane  happen'd  to  have  a 
sort  of  primier  Agent  in  his  Stage- Affairs,  that  seem'd 
in  Appearance  as  much  to  govern  the  Master  as  the 
Master  himself  did  to  govern  his  Actors  :  But  this 
Person  was  under  no  Stipulation  or  Sallary  for  the 
Service  he  render'd,  but  had  gradually  wrought  him- 
self into  the  Master's  extraordinary  Confidence  and 
Trust,  from  an  habitual  Intimacy,  a  cheerful  Humour, 

^  In  July,  1705,  Rich  was  approached  on  behalf  of  Vanbrugh 
regarding  a  Union,  and  the  Lord  Chamberlain  supported  the 
latter's  proposal.  Rich,  in  decHning,  wrote :  "  I  am  concern'd 
with  above  forty  Persons  in  number,  either  as  Adventurers  under 
the  two  Patents  granted  to  Sir  William  Davenant,  and  T/io.  Killi- 
grew,  Esq.;  or  as  Renters  of  Covent-Gardcn  and  Dorsci-Gardcn 

Theatres I  am  a  purchaser  under  the  Patents,  to  above 

the  value  of  two  Thousand  Pounds  (a  great  i)art  of  which  was 
under  the  Marriage-Settlements  of  Dr.  Davenant)  " — "  The  Post- 
Boy  Rob'd  of  his  Mail,"  p.  344. 

330  THE    LIFE    OF 

and   an  indefatigable  Zeal  for  his    Interest.      If  I 
should  farther  say,  that  this  Person  has  been  well 
known  in  almost  every  Metropolis  in  Europe  \   that 
few  private  Men  have,  with  so  little  Reproach,  run 
through  more  various  Turns  of  Fortune ;   that,  on 
the  wrong  side  of  Three-score,  he  has  yet  the  open 
Spirit  of  a  hale  young  Fellow  of  five  and  twenty ; 
that  though  he  still  chuses  to  speak  what  he  thinks 
to  his  best  Friends  with  an  undisguis'd  Freedom,  he 
is,  notwithstanding,  acceptable  to  many  Persons  of 
the  first  Rank  and  Condition  ;  that  any  one  of  them 
(provided  he  likes  them)  may  now  send  him,  for  their 
Service,  to  Constantmople  at  half  a  Day's  Warning ; 
that  Time  has  not  yet  been  able  to  make  a  visible 
Change  in  any  Part   of  him  but  the  Colour  of  his 
Hair,  from  a  fierce  coal-black  to  that  of  a  milder 
milk-white  :    When  I  have  taken  this  Liberty  with 
him,  methinks  it  cannot  be  taking  a  much  greater  if 
I  at  once  should  tell  you  that  this  Person  was  Mr. 
Owen   Swiney^   and  that   it  was  to  him   Sir  Jolm 

*  Owen  Swiney,  or  Mac  Swiney,  was  an  Irishman.  As  is  related 
by  Gibber  in  this  and  following  chapters,  he  leased  the  Haymarket 
from  Vanbrugh  from  the  beginning  of  the  season  1706-7.  At  the 
Union,  1707-8,  the  Haymarket  was  made  over  to  him  for  the 
production  of  operas;  and  when,  at  the  end  of  1708-9,  Rich  was 
ordered  to  silence  his  company  at  Drury  Lane,  Swiney  was  allowed 
to  engage  the  chief  of  Rich's  actors  to  play  at  the  Haymarket, 
where  they  opened  September,  1709.  At  the  beginning  of  season 
1710-11,  Swiney  and  his  partners  became  managers  of  Drury 
Ivane,  but  Swiney  M'as  forced  at  the  end  of  that  season  to  resume 
the  management  of  the  operas.  After  a  year  of  the  Opera-house 
(end  of  1711-12),  Swiney  was  ruined  and  had  to  go  abroad.     He 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  331 

Vanbrugh,  in  this  Exigence  of  his  Theatrical  Affairs, 
made  an  Offer  of  his  Actors,  under  such  Agreements 
of  Sallary  as  might  be  made  with  them ;  and  of  his 
House,  Cloaths,  and  Scenes,  with  the  Queen's  License 
to  employ  them,  upon  Payment  of  only  the  casual 
Rent  of  five  Pounds  upon  every  acting  Day,  and 
not  to  exceed  700/.  in  the  Year.  Of  this  Proposal 
Mr.  Swincy  desir'd  a  Day  or  two  to  consider ;  for, 
however  he  might  like  it,  he  would  not  meddle  in 
any  sort  without  the  Consent  and  Approbation  of  his 
Friend  and  Patron,  the  Master  of  Driiry  Lane. 
Having"  given  the  Reasons  why  this  Patentee  was 
averse  to  a  Union,  it  may  now  seem  less  a  Wonder 
why  he  immediately  consented  that  Swiney  should 
take  the  Hay- Market  House,  &c.  and  continue  that 
Company  to  act  against  him ;  but  the  real  Truth  was, 
that  he  had  a  mind  both  Companies  should  be  clan- 
destinely under  one  and  the  same  Interest,  and  yet 
in  so  loose  a  manner  that  he  mio-ht  declare  his 
Verbal  Agreement  with  Swiney  good,  or  null  and 
void,  as  he  might  best  find  his  Account  in  either. 
What    flatter'd    him    that    he    had    this    wholsom 

remained  abroad  some  twenty  years.  On  26th  February,  1735, 
he  had  a  benefit  at  Drury  Lane,  at  which  Gibber  played  for  his 
old  friend.  The  "Biographia  Dramatica"  says  that  he  received 
a  place  in  the  Custom  House,  and  was  made  Keeper  of  the 
King's  Mews.  He  died  2nd  October,  1754,  leaving  his  property 
to  Mrs.  Woffington.  Davies,  in  his  "Dramatic  Miscellanies"  (i. 
232),  tells  an  idle  tale  of  a  scuffle  between  Swiney  and  Mrs.  Clive's 
brother,  which  Bellchambers  quotes  at  length,  though  it  has  no 
special  reference  to  anything. 

332  THE    LIFE    OF 

Project,  and  Swhiey  to  execute  it,  both  in  his 
Power,  was  that  at  this  time  Swiney  happen'd  to 
stand  in  his  Books  Debtor  to  Cash  upwards  of 
Two  Hundred  Pounds  :  But  here,  we  shall  find,  he 
over- rated  his  Security.  However,  Swiney  as  yet 
follow'd  his  Orders;  he  took  the  Hay-Market  Theatre, 
and  had,  farther,  the  private  Consent  of  the  Patentee 
to  take  such  of  his  Actors  from  Drury-Lane  as  either 
from  Inclination  or  Discontent,  might  be  willing  to 
come  over  to  him  in  the  Hay-Ma7'ket.  The  only 
one  he  made  an  Exception  of,  was  myself :  For  tho' 
he  chiefly  depended  upon  his  Singers  and  Dancers,^ 
he  said  it  would  be  necessary  to  keep  some  one 
tolerable  Actor  with  him,  that  might  enable  him  to 
set  those  Machines  a  eoine.  Under  this  Limitation 
of  not  entertaining  me,  Swiney  seem'd  to  acquiesce 
'till  after  he  had  open'd  with  the  so  recruited  Com- 
pany in  the  Hay-Market :  the  Actors  that  came  to 
him  from  Drury-Lajie  were  Wilks,  Estcourt,^  Mills, 
Keen,^  Johnson,  Bullock,  Mrs.  Oldfield,  Mrs.  Rogers, 
and  some  few  others  of  less  note :  But  I  must  here 
let  you  know  that  this  Project  was  form'd  and  put  in 
Execution   all  in  very  few    Days,  in  the  Summer- 

^  At  Drury  Lane  this  season  (1706-7)  very  few  plays  were  acted. 
Rich  relying  chiefly  on  operas. 

^  Gibber  seems  to  be  wrong  in  including  Estcourt  in  this  list. 
His  name  appears  in  the  Drury  Lane  bills  for  1706-7,  and  his 
great  part  of  Sergeant  Kite  ("  Recruiting  Officer")  was  played  at 
the  Haymarket  by  Pack.  On  30th  November,  1706,  it  was  adver- 
tised that  "  the  true  Sergeant  Kite  is  performed  at  Drury  Lane." 

^  See  memoir  of  Theophilus  Keen  at  end  of  second  volume. 

MR.    COLLEY   CIBBER.  333 

Season,  when  no  Theatre  was  open.  To  all  which  I 
was  entirely  a  Stranger,  being  at  this  time  at  a 
Gentleman's  House  in  Gloucestershire,  scribbling,  if 
I  mistake  not,  the  Wifes  Resentment} 

The  first  Word  I  heard  of  this  Transaction  was 
by  a  Letter  from  Swiney,  inviting  me  to  make  One 
in  the  Hay- Market  Company,  whom  he  hop'd  I 
could  not  but  now  think  the  stronger  Party.  But  I 
confess  I  was  not  a  little  alarm'd  at  this  Revolution : 
For  I  consider'd,  that  I  knew  of  no  visible  Fund  to 
support  these  Actors  but  their  own  Industry  ;  that  all 
his  Recruits  from  Drury-Lane  would  want  new 
Cloathing ;  and  that  the  warmest  Industry  would  be 
always  labouring  up  Hill  under  so  necessary  an  Ex- 
pence,  so  bad  a  Situation,  and  so  inconvenient  a 
Theatre.  I  was  always  of  opinion,  too,  that  in 
changing  Sides,  in  most  Conditions,  there  generally 
were  discovered  more  unforeseen  Inconveniencies 
than  visible  Advantages  ;  and  that  at  worst  there 
would  always  some  sort  of  Merit  remain  with  Fidelity, 
the'  unsuccessful.     Upon  these  Considerations  I  was 

^  Downes  (p.  50)  gives  the  following  account  of  the  transac- 
tion : — 

"  In  this  Interval  Captain  Vantbnigg  by  Agreement  with  Mr. 
Swinny,  and  by  the  Concurrence  of  my  Lord  Chamberlain,  Trans- 
ferr'd  and  Invested  his  License  and  Government  of  the  Theatre 
to  Mr.  Swinny;  who  brought  with  him  from  Mr.  Rich,  Mr.  WilkSy 
Mr.  Cyber,  Mr.  Mills,  Mr.  Johnson,  Mr.  Kccnc,  Mr.  Norn's,  Mr. 
Fairbank,  Mrs.  Oldficld  and  others;  United  them  to  the  Old 
Company ;  Mr.  Betterton  and  Mr.  Underhill,  being  the  only  re- 
mains of  the  Duke  of  York's  Servants,  from  1662,  till  the  Union 
in  October  1706." 

334  THE    LIFE    OF 

only  thankful  for  the  Offers  made  me  from  the  Hay- 
Market,  without  accepting  them,  and  soon  after  came 
to  Town  towards  the  usual  time  of  their  beginning 
to  act,  to  offer  my  Service  to  our  old  Master.  But 
I  found  our  Company  so  thinn'd  that  it  was  almost 
impracticable  to  bring  any  one  tolerable  Play  upon 
the  Stage/  When  I  ask'd  him  where  were  his 
Actors,  and  in  what  manner  he  intended  to  proceed  ? 
he  reply'd,  Don  t  you  trouble  yourself  ,  come  along,  and 
ril  shew  you.  He  then  led  me  about  all  the  By- 
places  in  the  House,  and  shew'd  me  fifty  little  Back- 
doors, dark  Closets,  and  narrow  Passages ;  in  Altera- 
tions and  Contrivances  of  which  kind  he  had  busied 
his  Head  most  part  of  the  Vacation ;  for  he  was 
scarce  ever  without  some  notable  Joyner,  or  a  Brick- 
layer extraordinary,  in  pay,  for  twenty  Years.  And 
there  are  so  many  odd  obscure  Places  about  a 
Theatre,  that  his  Genius  in  Nook-building  was  never 
out  of  Employment ;  nor  could  the  most  vain-headed 
Author  be  more  deaf  to  an  Interruption  in  reciting 
his  Works,  than  our  wise  Master  was  while  enter- 
taining me  with  the  Improvements  he  had  made  in 
his  invisible  Architecture  ;  all  which,  without  thinking 
any  one  Part  of  it  necessary,  tho'  I  seem'd  to  ap- 
prove, I  could  not  help  now  and  then  breaking  in 
upon  his  Delight  with  the  impertinent  Question  of 

^  The  chief  actors  left  at  Drury  Lane  were  Estcourt,  Pinketh- 
man,  Powell,  Capt.  Griffin,  Mrs.  Tofts,  Mrs.  Mountfort  (that  is, 
the  great  Mrs.  Mountfort's  daughter),  and  Mrs.  Cross :  a  miser- 
ably weak  company. 

MR.    COLLEY    GIBBER.  335 

But^  Master^  where  ai^e  yoiir  Actors?     But  it 

seems  I  had  taken  a  wrong  time  for  this  sort  of  En- 
quiry ;  his  Head  was  full  of  Matters  of  more  moment, 
and  (as  you  find)  I  was  to  come  another  time  for  an 
Answer :  A  very  hopeful  Condition  I  found  myself 
in,  under  the  Conduct  of  so  profound  a  Vertuoso  and 
so  considerate  a  Master  !     But  to  speak  of  him  seri- 
ously,   and    to   account   for   this    Disregard   to   his 
Actors,  his  Notion  was  that  Singing  and  Dancing, 
or  any  sort  of  Exotick  Entertainments,  would  make 
an  ordinary  Company  of  Actors  too  hard  for  the 
best  Set  who   had  only  plain  Plays  to  subsist  on. 
Now,  though  I  am  afraid  too  much  might  be  said  in 
favour  of  this  Opinion,  yet  I  thought  he  laid  more 
Stress  upon  that  sort  of  Merit  than  it  would  bear ; 
as  I  therefore  found  myself  of  so  little  Value  with 
him,  I  could  not  help  setting  a  little  more  upon  my- 
self, and  was  resolv'd  to  come  to  a  short  Explanation 
with  him.     I  told  him  I  came  to  serve  him  at  a  time 
when   many  of  his  best  Actors  had  deserted  him  ; 
that  he  might  now  have  the  Refusal  of  me  ;  but  I 
could  not  afford  to  carry  the  Compliment  so  far  as  to 
lessen  my  Income  by  it;  that  I  therefore  expected 
either  my  casual  Pay  to  be  advanced,  or  the   Pay- 
ment of  my  former  Sallary  made  certain  for  as  many 
Days  as  we  had  acted  the  Year  before. — No,  he  was 
not  willing  to  alter  his  former  Method ;  but  I  might 
chuse  whatever  Parts  I  had  a  mind  to  act  of  tlicirs 
who  had  left  him.     When  I  found  him,  as  I  thought, 
so  insensible  or  impregnable,  I  look'd  gravel)-  in  his 

336  THE    LIFE    OF 

Face,  and  told  him — He  knew  upon  what  Terms  I 
was  willing  to  serve  him,  and  took  my  leave.  By 
this  time  the  Hay-Ma7'ket  Company  had  begun  acting 
to  Audiences  somethinof  better  than  usual,  and  were 
all  paid  their  full  Sallaries,  a  Blessing  they  had  not 
felt  in  some  Years  in  either  House  before.  Upon 
this  Success  Swiney  press'd  the  Patentee  to  execute 
the  Articles  they  had  as  yet  only  verbally  agreed  on, 
which  were  in  Substance,  That  Swiney  should  take 
the  Hay-Market  House  in  his  own  Name,  and  have 
what  Actors  he  thought  necessary  from  Drury-Lane, 
and  after  all  Payments  punctually  made,  the  Profits 
should  be  equally  divided  between  these  two  Under- 
takers. But  soft  and  fair!  Rashness  was  a  Fault 
that  had  never  yet  been  imputed  to  the  Patentee ; 
certain  Payments  were  Methods  he  had  not  of  a  long, 
long  time  been  us'd  to  ;  that  Point  still  wanted  time 
for  Consideration.  But  Swiney  was  as  hasty  as  the 
other  was  slow,  and  was  resolv'd  to  know  what  he 
had  to  trust  to  before  they  parted ;  and  to  keep  him 
the  closer  to  his  Bargain,  he  stood  upon  his  Right  of 
having  Me  added  to  that  Company  if  I  was  willing 
to  come  into  it.  But  this  was  a  Point  as  absolutely 
refus'd  on  one  side  as  insisted  on  on  the  other.  In 
this  Contest  high  Words  were  exchang'd  on  both 
sides,  'till,  in  the  end,  this  their  last  private  Meeting 
came  to  an  open  Rupture :  But  before  it  was  pub- 
lickly  known,  Swiney,  by  fairly  letting  me  into  the 
whole  Transaction,  took  effectual  means  to  secure  me 
in  his  Interest.    When  the  Mystery  of  the  Patentee's 

MR.   COLLEY    GIBBER.  337 

Indifference  to  me  was  unfolded,  and  that  his  slighting 
me  was  owing  to  the  Security  he  rely'd  on  of  Swineys 
not  daring  to  engage  me,  I  could  have  no  further 
Debate  with  my  self  which  side  of  the  Question  I 
should  adhere  to.  To  conclude,  I  agreed,  in  two 
Words,  to  act  with  Swiney}  and  from  this  time  every 
Change  that  happen'd  in  the  Theatrical  Government 
was  a  nearer  Step  to  that  twenty  Years  of  Prosperity 
which  Actors,  under  the  Menagement  of  Actors,  not 
long  afterwards  enjoy'd.  What  was  the  immediate 
Consequence  of  this  last  Desertion  from  Dnay- 
Lane  shall  be  the  Subject  of  another  Chapter. 

^  Swiney's  company  began  to  act  at  the  Haymarket  on  15th 
October,  1 706.  Gibber's  first  appearance  seems  to  have  been  on 
7th  November,  when  he  played  Lord  Foppington  in  "The  Careless 

END    OF  VOL.    I. 






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